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Earth’s Largest Commercial Antenna Launched Into Space

November 15, 2010

The Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) said that they have successfully launched a U.S. satellite carrying the biggest commercial antenna reflector ever put in space.

The 72-feet antenna on the Skyterra-1 spacecraft will relay signals for a new 4G-LTE mobile phone and data system for North America run by Lightsquared.

Callers whose networks are tied into the system will automatically be switched to a satellite if they are out of range of from the towers on the ground.

Lightsquared said its business will be wholesale only and will be selling capacity to carriers who wish to offer go-anywhere connectivity to their consumers. 

It says the system will be capable of supporting smartphone-sized devices.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved the company’s schedule, which says it will have a ground network of terrestrial stations in place to serve 90 percent of the U.S. population by the end of 2015.

The U.S. satellite was launched from Baikonur on a Proton rocket on Sunday.

Skyterra-1 will be located at 101.3 degrees West longitude and is expected to have a service life of 15 years.
 
The launch was the 10th Proton flight of 2010, and the seventh organized by International Launch Service, the company that sells the Russian rocket to commercial operators who need to get satellites into orbit.

Boeing produced the SkyTerra 1 to provide voice and data services to cell phone users.  The satellite has a 72-feet L-band reflector for mobile terminal links complemented by a 5-feet Ku-band antenna.

Photo Credit: Roscosmos

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