Q 2.22 Give a brief history of communication satellite?

The satellite era began in October 1957 with the launch of SPUTNIK-1, a Russian satellite. This was followed by launch of an American satellite, EXPLORER-1 in 1958.

Early satellites were used as reflectors of radio waves to establish a communication link. Active satellites, which amplify the received signal on-board before re-transmission, would greatly enhance the capability of satellites for communications. Research and development effort during the next few years led to development of space qualified electronics and active satellites. The first geostationary satellite, SYNCOM III, was successfully launched in 1963. The first commercial satellite for international communication, named EARLY BIRD, began operation in 1965.

Most of the early developments concentrated on international point-to-point telecommunication.

The applications of satellite communication extended to the broadcast (1970’s), mobile communications (1980’s) and personal communication in the first decade of 2000. These advances were enabled by a phenomenal increase in high transmission power of satellites, capability of generating hundreds of spot beams, vastly improved satellite launchers, and remarkable innovations in ground system technologies.

Addition of high throughput mobile and fixed satellites in the first and second decade of the century brought revolutionary increase in throughput and vast reductions in user terminal cost and size and cost per bit to the end user.

A majority of the satellite systems rely on geostationary orbit but several modern systems now use low and medium altitude orbit in order to reduce propagation delay and cost and provide true global coverage.

A more detailed exposition of early development up to mid-1990s is available in the following reference. See also answer to Q 1.3

See also, “Communications Satellites: Making the Global Village Possible”
by David J. Whalen
Available: http://history.nasa.gov/satcomhistory.html/. (Retrieved 26/07/2015)