Satellite Communications Described At ASNE Los Angeles Section

Beach-Greater Los Angeles Section of the American Society of Naval Engineers was held recently at the Los Alamitos Armed Forces Reserve Center Officer's Club.

In the absence of chairman J.R. Malone, Capt. J.A. Gildea, USN, vice chairman, called the meeting to order with the customary procedure of each individual introducing himself and any guest or visitor he sponsored.

Next, he called on Lt. Ken Smith, USN, for a report on his attendance at the ASNE Day functions in Washington, D.C. Lieutenant Smith gave an excellent report on principal aspects of the meeting.

As the next order of business, Captain Gildea called on the program chairman, Carl Erickson, to take over and introduce the evening's speaker and his topic.

The speaker, Paul Melancon, is currently the Fleet Satellite Communications Program Manager for TRW Systems, having been associated with TRW for about 20 years. Prior to his activities in the field of satellite communications, he was the program manager for the Lunar Module Guidance System and thus has had considerable experience in dealing with the problems associated with the functioning of equipment operating in outer space.

Mr. Melancon described the FLTSATCOM program, which was started in 1972. The first vehicle was placed in a circular orbit in 1978, with No. 2 and No. 3 following in 1979. No. 4 will go up in 1980, and No. 5 in 1981. Each will be in a "stationary" position relative to a point on the earth's surface and are, or will be, strategically located to cover all operating areas for the U.S. Fleet from latitude 70 degrees S to 70 degrees N.

The vehicle has an unusual geometry being some 43 feet wide with the solar panels deployed, and about 16 feet high from its base to the tip of the antenna. It weighs about 4,100 pounds at launch and around 2,200 pounds in orbit. No one has actually seen the deployed vehicle up close as it is not possible for the structure to sustain the gravitational weight of the deployed components on the earth's surface. However, Mr. Melancon showed slides of an artist's conception of the vehicle as it appears on station.

Other stories from July 1980 issue


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