The popular and versatile Boeing 376 spin-stabilized spacecraft is one of the world's most-purchased commercial communications satellite models. The first satellite to be launched by the space shuttle, the Boeing 376 is built by Boeing.
All Boeing 376 models have two telescoping cylindrical solar panels and antennas that fold for compactness during launch. The basic bus accommodates a wide range of customized payloads, and the satellite can be boosted by any of the world's major launch vehicles.
The Boeing 376 spacecraft is available in several configurations ranging from 800 to 2,000 watts and typically features 24 transponders in C- or Ku-band, or a combination of both.
More than 50 Boeing 376 spacecraft have been built or ordered for more than a dozen customers on five continents. The Boeing 376W model is an extension of the Boeing 376 family. The Boeing 376W is larger, wider, and more powerful than the Boeing 376.
In April 1985, Telesat Canada ordered three Boeing 376 spacecraft for its Anik C series of communications satellites. One year later, two more 376s were ordered for its Anik D series.
The fleet of five satellites exceeded its contractual lifetime by more than 21 years. The three Anik C and two Anik D spacecraft have a combined lifetime of 65.1 orbital years, with an average life of 13.02 years.
The three Anik C satellites each carry 16 Ku-band transponders, operating in the 14/12 GHz range and serving the more densely populated portions of Canada. The Anik D satellites carry 24 C-band transponders and operate in the 6/4 GHz range.
All three of the Anik C satellites were launched by the space shuttle. Anik C3 was launched in November 1982, followed by Anik C2 in June 1983, and Anik C1 in April 1985. The Anik C satellites had 8-year contracted lives, however Anik C2 outlasted its design life by 180 percent. Anik C2 was gracefully deorbited in January 1998 after 14 years, 6 months, and 19 days of round-the-clock telecommunications service.
Anik D1 was launched on a Delta rocket in August 1982, followed by Anik D2 on the space shuttle in November 1984. The Anik D satellites had a 10-year design life. Anik D1 was retired in December 1991 and Anik D2 was retired in January 1995.
Under a separate contract, Boeing also built the Anik A series of three 333 satellites. The first, Anik A1, was launched in November 1972 and became the world's first national communications satellite.
APT Satellite Company, Ltd., China
In May 1992, APT Satellite Company, Ltd., a combined undertaking between Chinese and Hong Kong concerns, signed an agreement for one APSTAR satellite, satellite control equipment, and transfer orbital control services. A second satellite was ordered in early 1995.
The APSTAR satellites each carried 24 C-band transponders for general telecommunications services. APSTAR 1 serves Asia from Mongolia on the north to the Philippines and part of Indonesia on the south. APSTAR 1A extended coverage into India.
APSTAR 1 was launched on a Long March rocket in July 1994 followed by APSTAR 1A, also on a Long March rocket, in July 1996.
Asia Satellite Telecommunications Company, Ltd., China
In April 1990, AsiaSat 1 was launched onboard a Long March rocket. The Boeing 376 spacecraft is the refurbished Westar VI, which was salvaged by space shuttle astronauts in 1984 after a faulty perigee kick motor prevented it from reaching its intended orbit. Once it was recovered, the insurance underwriters sold the satellite to AsiaSat, which then contracted to refurbish it and build tracking and control stations in Hong Kong.
SES ASTRA, Luxembourg
In August 1999, SES ASTRA, a longtime customer, ordered its first Boeing 376 model called ASTRA 2D. This high-power spacecraft provides interactive media services and analog and digital television and radio signals across Europe. It operates in Ku-band from the orbital slot of 28.2 degrees East longitude. Under a delivery-in-orbit contract, Boeing provided the satellite, launch services, ground control station software and training. ASTRA 2D successfully launched on an Ariane rocket on Dec. 19, 2000.
In December 2000, SES awarded Boeing a contract to build the ASTRA 3A satellite, a high-power Boeing 376HP. ASTRA 3A augments SES ASTRA's existing fleet to help meet growing demand for digital satellite services. The payload consisting of 24 Ku-band transponders, 20 active, that provide high-power direct to home services to the German-speaking markets of Germany, Austria and Switzerland from SES ASTRA's new orbital position of 23.5 degrees East longitude. ASTRA 3A launched on an Ariane rocket on March 28, 2002.
Aussat Pty. Ltd., Australia
Aussat Pty. Ltd., Australia's national satellite company, selected Boeing in June 1982 to develop Australia's first satellite program. Three Boeing 376 spacecraft were ordered.
Aussat (now Optus Communications Pty. Ltd.) provides a wide range of domestic services to the entire continent and its offshore islands. Services include direct television broadcast to homesteads and remote communities, high-quality television relays between major cities, and voice applications for urban and remote areas.
The Aussat spacecraft each carried 15 Ku-band transponders operating at 14/12 GHz. All were built with 7-year mission lives.
Aussat A1 was launched on the space shuttle in August 1985. Aussat A2 was launched in November 1985, also on the space shuttle. An Ariane rocket launched Aussat A3 in September 1987.
Media Most, Russia
In October 1997, Boeing was awarded a contract for one Boeing 376 satellite from BONUM-1, a subsidiary of Media Most, a private Russian media group. It was the first spacecraft built by an American company for Russia. The high-power satellite provides digital direct-to-home television services to the western part of Russia.
BONUM-1 carries 8 active Ku-band transponders, which, as a result of digital compression technology, are capable of providing up to 50 channels using 75-watt traveling-wave tube amplifiers. BONUM-1 was launched in November 1998 on Delta rocket. The satellite has a service life of 11 years and is positioned at 36 degrees East longitude.
Embratel of Brazil in August 1982 contracted with Canada's Spar Aerospace, Ltd., teaming with Boeing, for its Brasilsat A series of Boeing 376 satellites. In 1990, Embratel purchased two more Boeing 376 models for the Brasilsat B series.
These are the wide-body, more powerful Boeing 376W model spacecraft. In 1995, Brasilsat B-3 was ordered, followed by Brasilsat B-4 in 1998.
The Boeing 376W is wider and taller and provides 60 percent more radiated power than Brasilsat A. Brasilsat A provided service throughout the nation, and the Brasilsat B satellites provide still higher performance for such customers and banks, factories, and businesses using their own small antennas.
The Brasilsat A spacecraft carried 24 C-band transponders and had 8-year mission lives. Brasilsat B-1 and B-2 have one X-band and 28 C-band transponders. B-3 and B-4 do not have X-band.
Embratel chose Ariane rockets to launch its satellites. Brasilsat A1 was launched in February 1985, followed by Brasilsat A2. Brasilsat B-1 was launched in August 1994, followed by Brasilsat B-2 in March 1995 and Brasilsat B-3 in February 1998. Brasilsat B-4 was successfully launched in August 2000.
Broadcasting Satellite System Corp., Japan
In December 1993, Boeing was selected to build two Boeing 376 satellites for Broadcasting Satellite System Corp. (B-SAT) of Tokyo.
The Boeing 376 satellites provide broadcasting service in Japan for NHK and Japan Satellite Broadcasting Company, among others.
BSAT-1a and BSAT-1b each have four active high-power transponders in Ku-band, using 106-watt traveling-wave tube amplifiers. They are designed to provide at least 10 years of service from their orbital position at 110 degrees East longitude.
The BSAT satellites were both launched on Ariane rockets, BSAT-1a in April 1997 and BSAT-1b in April 1998.
China Telecommunications Broadcast Satellite Corp., China
The first U.S.-built communications satellite designed to serve mainland China was ordered from Boeing in 1995 by the China Telecommunications Broadcast Satellite Corp. (ChinaSat), a division of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications. The satellite, ChinaSat 7, carried 24 active transponders in C-band and was to provide television and other communications services.
Boeing also arranged for launch onboard a Chinese Long March rocket, however under performance by the rocket in August 1996 left the satellite in an incorrect low orbit.
In February 2000, EUTELSAT, the 48-member European Satellite Telecommunications Organization, signed a contract for a broadband communications satellite from Boeing. The satellite, to be known as e-BIRD, is a spin-stabilized Boeing 376 HP and is slated for an orbital slot at 25.5 degrees East longitude. There, e-BIRD will provide capacity optimized for Internet protocol (IP) access networks with satellite return link capabilities via its payload of 20 active Ku-band transponders connected to four spot beams over the European region. e-Bird was launched on an Ariane rocket in 2003.
PanAmSat Corporation, United States
PanAmSat Corporation of Greenwich, Conn., is a leading provider of global video and data broadcasting services via satellite. Through a merger in May 1997 with Hughes Hughes Communications, Inc., PanAmSat acquired the existing Galaxy satellites.
A total of eight Boeing 376 satellites were built for the Galaxy fleet. The initial contract from Hughes Communications included Galaxy I, Galaxy II, and Galaxy III, each with a 9-year mission life. Galaxy VI, with a 10-year mission life, was ordered in August 1983. Galaxy V and Galaxy I-R, each designed for 12 years of operation, were ordered in March 1989. A replacement for Galaxy I-R was subsequently ordered, and Galaxy IX, the eighth in the series, was ordered in 1995.
The first satellite to launch was Galaxy I, which launched on a Delta rocket in June 1983. Subsequent Delta launches included Galaxy II in September 1983 and Galaxy III in September 1984. In October 1990, Galaxy VI was launched on an Ariane rocket. Two years later, in March 1992, an Atlas rocket lofted Galaxy V. This was followed by Galaxy I-R in August 1992, but the Atlas rocket's Centaur booster motor failed to fire and the rocket and satellite were destroyed by range safety officials. Its replacement, also designated Galaxy I-R, was launched on a Delta rocket in February 1994. Delta also launched Galaxy IX in May 1996.
British Satellite Broadcasting, Ltd., United Kingdom
In July 1987, Boeing was selected by British Satellite Broadcasting, Ltd., to design and build two Boeing 376 satellites to provide the first television direct broadcast satellite system in the United Kingdom.
The two satellites, Marcopolo I and Marcopolo II, were designed to cover the entire United Kingdom, each carrying three high-power Ku-band channels.
Marcopolo I (BSB-1) was launched in August 1989 on a Delta rocket. It was sold to Nordiska Satellitaktiebolaget (NSAB) of Sweden in December 1993 and today operates as Sirius 1.
Marcopolo II (BSB-2) was launched in August 1990, also on a Delta rocket. In July 1992, it was sold to Norway's Telenor, and today operates as Thor I.
Binariang Sdn. Bhd., Malaysia
Boeing and Binariang Sdn. Bhd. of Kuala Lumpur signed a contract in May 1994 for construction of the Malaysia East Asia Satellite (MEASAT) system. The system called for one Boeing 376 model spacecraft, equipment for a satellite control station on Langkawi Island, and training of Malaysian spacecraft controllers. Binariang exercised its option for a second satellite in January 1995.
The MEASAT satellites were designed to provide 12 years of both direct-to-user television service in Malaysia and general communications services in the region from Malaysia to the Philippines and from Beijing to Indonesia.
MEASAT 1 has five high-power transponders in Ku-band for the direct-to-user service, powered by 112-watt traveling-wave tube amplifiers. The regional service is provided on 12 transponders in C-band, using 12-watt solid state amplifiers. MEASAT 2 has 11 active transponders in Ku-band. Eight of these use 95-watt traveling-wave amplifiers, and three have 62 watts. There also are six active transponders in C-band, powered by 12-watt solid-state amplifiers.
As Boeing 376 spacecraft, the MEASAT satellites have three enhancements over the standard model. They were the first in the Boeing 376 series to be fitted with gallium arsenide solar cells, which deliver 40 percent more payload power as compared to their silicon predecessors. They were also the first Boeing 376s to use Boeing's lightweight, high-gain shaped antenna. The satellites also used a more efficient bipropellant system for stationkeeping and attitude control maneuvers.
Both MEASAT satellites were launched on Ariane rockets. MEASAT 1 was launched in January 1996, and MEASAT 2 was launched in November 1996. MEASAT 1 is located at 91.5 degrees East, and MEASAT 2 is located at 148 degrees East.
see also MEASAT-3
Telecomunicaciones de Mexico (Telecomm), Mexico
In 1982, Telecomunicaciones de Mexico, a governmental agency, selected Boeing to build two Boeing 376 spacecraft to provide Mexico's first domestic communications satellite system, Morelos.
Morelos A and Morelos B each carry 18 C-band transponders and four Ku-band transponders, which provide advanced telecommunications to even the most remote parts of the nation. The satellites were designed to provide service for 9 years. Both satellites were launched in 1985 on the Space Shuttle, Morelos A in June and Morelos B in November.
In February 1980, Indonesia's state-owned telecommunications company, Perumtel (now TELKOM), placed an initial order for two Boeing 376 spacecraft to begin its second generation of Palapa communications satellites. In 1984, a third Boeing 376 spacecraft was ordered, followed by a fourth.
The Palapa-B satellites provide television, telephone, facsimile, and data transmission throughout Indonesia. Services are also provided to Papua New Guinea and fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), including Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
All Palapa-B satellites carry 24 C-band transponders, receiving from 5.925 to 6.415 GHz and transmitting from 3.7 to 4.2 GHz, and are built with 8-year mission lives.
Palapa-B1 was launched onboard the Space Shuttle in June 1983 and Palapa-B2 in February 1984. Because of a malfunction in the perigee kick motor (not built by Boeing Satellite Systems), Palapa-B2, and its rocket copassenger, Westar VI, another Boeing 376 satellite, failed to reach its intended orbit. In November 1984, a space shuttle crew retrieved Palapa-B2 and Westar VI and returned them to Earth. Palapa B2 was refurbished, renamed Palapa-B2R, and successfully relaunched on a Delta rocket in April 1990. Palapa-B2P was launched on a Delta rocket in March 1987, and the fourth in the Palapa-B series, Palapa-B4, was launched in May 1992, also on a Delta.
Satellite Business Systems, United States
In December 1977, Satellite Business Systems (SBS) placed the first three orders for the newly introduced Boeing 376 spacecraft. The SBS satellites were jointly owned by subsidiaries of IBM, Comsat General Corp., and Aetna Life & Casualty. In 1981 a fourth satellite was ordered, followed by the fifth in October 1983.
Built for mission lives of 7 years, the first four SBS satellites carried 10 Ku-band transponders. The fifth, with a mission life of 10 years, carried 14 Ku-band transponders.
SBS F-3 was the first to be launched, in November 1980, on a Delta rocket. SBS F-1 followed, also on a Delta, in September 1981. On Nov. 11, 1982, SBS F-2 made history by being the first satellite to be launched on the space shuttle. SBS F-4 was launched on the space shuttle in August 1984, and the final in the series, SBS F-5, was launched on an Ariane rocket in September 1988.
Nordiska Satellitaktiebolaget, Sweden
In June 1997, Boeing was awarded a contract for one high-power 376 satellite from Nordiska Satellitaktiebolaget. The satellite, Sirius 3, provides direct-to-home television services to the Scandinavian region.
Sirius 3 uses 15 Ku-band transponders and gallium arsenide solar cells to generate 1400 watts of spacecraft power. The satellite is designed to provide a minimum of 12 years of service.
Sirius 3 was launched on an Ariane rocket in October 1998. It is the second Boeing satellite in the fleet. Sirius 1, originally built for British Satellite Broadcasting, Ltd., and launched in August 1989 as Marcopolo I, was acquired in-orbit in 1993.
AT&T, United States
American Telephone and Telegraph Company contracted with Boeing in August 1980 to build three Boeing 376 spacecraft for its Telstar communications satellite system. The satellites and related ground facilities served all 50 states and Puerto Rico, providing voice, video, and high-speed data services.
The Telstar satellites each carried 24 C-band transponders and were designed to provide a minimum of 10 years of service.
Telstar 3A was launched on a Delta rocket in July 1983. Telstar 3B was launched on the space shuttle in August 1984, and Telstar 3C was launched in June 1985, also on the space shuttle.
In October 1991, Shinawatra Computer and Communications Co. Ltd. of Thailand ordered two Boeing 376L satellites for its communications satellite system. The smaller, lighter version of the Boeing 376 carried 10 C-band and two Ku-band transponders.
Both satellites were launched on Ariane rockets, THAICOM 1 in December 1993 and THAICOM 2 in October 1994.
In November 1995, Telenor contracted with Boeing for one Boeing 376 satellite, Thor II, to deliver television and telephony/data services to Scandinavia and Northern Europe, with western offshore beams to the Faroes, Iceland, and Greenland. In May 1997, Telenor contracted for a second 376, Thor III.
Thor II carries 15 active Ku-band transponders, powered by 40-watt traveling-wave tube amplifiers. Thor III carries 14 active Ku-band transponders that are powered by 47-watt traveling-wave tube amplifiers. Both spacecraft use gallium arsenide solar cells to generate 1,400 watts of spacecraft power at end of life, and rely on nickel-hydrogen batteries for power through eclipses. Each is designed to operate for a minimum of 11 years.
The two Thor satellites were launched by Delta rockets, Thor II in May 1997, and Thor III in June 1998. The satellites are co-located at Telenor's Nordic Hot-Bird position at 0.8 degrees West longitude.
Telenor owns another Boeing satellite, Thor I, which was acquired in-orbit from British Satellite Broadcasting Ltd. in July 1992. Formerly known as Marcopolo II, it was launched in August 1990.
Western Union, United States
When Western Union returned to Boeing for a second generation of Westar satellites, it selected a Boeing 376 spacecraft. A total of three Boeing 376 satellites were built.
Westar IV and V were ordered in April 1980, and Westar VI was ordered in April 1982.
The satellites operated in C-band, each carrying 24 transponders. Westar IV was launched on a Delta rocket in February 1982, followed by Westar V, also on Delta, in June 1982. Westar VI was launched in February 1984 on the space shuttle, with co-passenger Palapa B2, another Boeing 376. When the perigee kick motor failed to fire, both satellites were stranded in a low, useless orbit. Shuttle astronauts retrieved Westar VI and Palapa B2 in November 1984 and brought them to Earth for refurbishing.
Westar VI was then sold to AsiaSat and it was successfully relaunched as AsiaSat 1 on a Long March rocket in April 1990 to provide telecommunications services to a number of Asian nations.