Intelsat

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Intelsat, Ltd. is a communications satellite services provider. Originally formed as International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (INTELSAT), it was an intergovernmental consortium owning and managing a constellation of communications satellites providing international broadcast services. As of 2007, Intelsat owns and operates a fleet of 51 communications satellites.

Contents

History

The Inter-Governmental Organization (IGO) began on August 20, 1964, with 11 participating countries. On April 6, 1965, Intelsat’s first satellite, the Intelsat I (nicknamed Early Bird), was placed in geostationary orbit above the Atlantic Ocean by a Delta D rocket.

In 1973, the name was changed and there were 80 signatories. Intelsat provides service to over 600 Earth stations in more than 149 countries, territories and dependencies. By 2001, INTELSAT had over 100 members. It was also this year that INTELSAT privatized and changed its name to Intelsat.

Since its inception, Intelsat has used several versions (blocks) of its dedicated Intelsat satellites. INTELSAT completes each block of spacecraft independently, leading to a variety of contractors over the years. Intelsat’s largest spacecraft supplier is Space Systems/Loral, having built 31 spacecraft (as of 2003), or nearly half of the fleet.

The network in its early years was not as robust as it is now. A failure of the Atlantic satellite in the spring of 1969[when?] threatened to stop the Apollo 11 mission; a replacement satellite went into a bad orbit and could not be recovered in time; NASA had to resort to using undersea cable telephone circuits to bring Apollo's communications to NASA during the mission.[1] Fortunately, during the Apollo 11 moonwalk, the moon was over the Pacific Ocean, and so other antennas were used, as well as INTELSAT III, which was in geostationary orbit of the Pacific.[2]

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