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Satellite Communication. Introductory Lecture Overview. Satellite technology has progressed tremendously over the last 50 years since Arthur C. Clarke first proposed its idea in 1945 in his article in Wireless World.

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Satellite communication

Satellite Communication

Introductory Lecture


  • Satellite technology has progressed tremendously over the last 50 years since Arthur C. Clarke first proposed its idea in 1945 in his article in Wireless World.

  • Today, satellite systems can provide a variety of services including broadband communications, audio/video distribution networks, maritime navigation, worldwide customer service and support as well as military command and control.

  • Satellite systems are also expected to play an important role in the emerging 4G global infrastructure providing the wide area coverage necessary for the realization of the “Optimally Connected Anywhere, Anytime” vision that drives the growth of modern telecom industry.

Course objectives
Course Objectives

This course aims to:

  • Provide a broad overview of the status of digital satellite communications.

  • Discuss main physical, architectural and networking issues of satellite systems.

  • Provide in-depth understanding of modern modulation, coding and multiple access schemes.

  • Review the state of the art in open research areas such as speech and video coding, satellite networking, internet over satellite and satellite personal communications.

  • Highlight trends and future directions of satellite communication

Course pre requisites
Course Pre-requisites

  • Principles of digital communications

  • Telecom systems design

Section 1 the satcom industry system design issues
Section 1: The SATCOM Industry – System Design Issues

  • An Overview of Satellite Communications

    • Examples of current military and commercial systems.

    • Satellite orbits and transponder characteristics (LEO, MEO, GEO)

    • Traffic Connectivity: Mesh, Hub-Spoke, Point-to-Point, Broadcast

  • Basic satellite transmission theory

    • Impairments of the Satellite Channel: Weather and Doppler effects, Channel models.

    • Communications Link Calculations: Definition of EIRP, Noise temperature and G/T ratio, Eb/No. Transponder gain and SFD. Link Budget Calculations. Down-link requirements. Design of satellite links to achieve a specified performance.

    • Earth Station Antenna types: Pointing/Tracking. Small antennas at Ku band. FCC-Intelsat-ITU antenna requirements and EIRP density limitations.

    • Brief introduction to implementation issues: LNA, Up/down converters, oscillator phase noise.

Section 2 elements of transponder design the baseband
Section 2: Elements of Transponder Design – The Baseband

  • Physical Layer of the Transponder – The Baseband System

  • Introduction to the theory of Digital Communications: Modulation, Equalization and FEC

    • Digital Modulation Techniques: BPSK, QPSK, Nyquist signal shaping.

    • Overview of Bandwidth Efficient Modulation (BEM) Techniques: M-ary PSK, Trellis Coded 8PSK, QAM.

    • PSK Receiver Implementation issues: Carrier recovery, phase slips, differential coding.

  • Overview of Forward Error Correction (FEC): Standard FEC types (Block and Convolution Coding schemes, Viterbi Decoding), Coding Gain, Concatenated coding, Turbo coding.

Section 3 multiple access issues
Section 3: Multiple Access Issues

  • Spread Spectrum Techniques: Military and commercial use of spread-spectrum. Direct-Sequence PN, Frequency-Hop and CDMA systems.

  • Principles of Multiple Access Communications

    • Multiplexing & Multiple Access FDD/TDD, FDMA, TDMA

    • Concepts of Random Access: ALOHA, CSMA

  • Multiple Access Techniques: FDMA, TDMA, CDMA. DAMA and Bandwidth-on-Demand (BoD).

  • TDMA Networks: Time Slots, Preambles, Suitability for DAMA and BoD.

Section 4 satcom networks and services
Section 4: SATCOM Networks and Services

  • Satellite Communication Systems & Networks

    • Characteristics of IP and TCP/UDP over satellite: Unicast and Multicast. Need for Performance

  • Enhancing Proxy (PEP) techniques.

    • VSAT Networks and their system characteristics.

    • DVB standards and MF-TDMA

  • The Future of SATCOM

    • SATCOM’s role in the emerging 4G Information and Communications (ICT) infrastructure.

Text book
Text Book

  • Title: The Satellite Communication Applications Handbook

  • Author: Bruce R. Elbert

  • ISBN: 1580534902

  • EAN: 9781580534901

  • Publisher:

    Artech House Publishers

Reference books
Reference Books

  • Title: Satellite Communications

  • Author: Dennis Roddy

  • ISBN: 0071371761

  • EAN: 9780071371766

  • Publisher:

    McGraw-Hill Professional

Reference books1
Reference Books

  • Title: Satellite Communication Engineering

  • Author: Michael O. Kolawole

  • ISBN: 082470777X

  • EAN: 9780071371766

  • Publisher:

    Marcel Dekker, Inc.

Pioneers in satellite communication
Pioneers in Satellite Communication

  • Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (1857 - 1935)Russian visionary of space flight First described the multi-stage rocket as means of achieving orbit.

    • Link: The life of Konstantin Eduardovitch Tsiolkovsky

  • Hermann Noordung (1892 - 1929)Postulated the geostationary orbit.

    • Link: The Problem of Space Travel: The Rocket Motor

  • Arthur C. Clarke (1917 – 19 March 2008)Postulated the entire concept of international satellite telecommunications from geostationary satellite orbit including   coverage, power, services, solar eclipse.

    • Link: "Wireless World" (1945)

Satellite history calendar
Satellite History Calendar

  • 1957

    • October 4, 1957: - First satellite - the Russian Sputnik 01

    • First living creature in space: Sputnik 02

  • 1958

    • First American satellite: Explorer 01

    • First telecommunication satellite: This satellite broadcast a taped message: Score

  • 1959

    • First meteorology satellite: Explorer 07

  • 1960

    • First successful passive satellite: Echo 1

    • First successful active satellite: Courier 1B

    • First NASA satellite: Explorer 08

  • April 12, 1961: - First man in space

  • 1962

    • First telephone communication & TV broadcast via satellite: Echo 1

    • First telecommunication satellite, first real-time active, AT&T: Telstar 1

    • First Canadian satellite: Alouette 1

    • On 7th June 1962 at 7:53p the two-stage rocket; Rehbar-I was successfully launched from Sonmiani Rocket Range. It carried a payload of 80 pounds of sodium and soared to about 130 km into the atmosphere. With the launching of Rehbar-I, Pakistan had the honour of becoming the third country in Asia and the tenth in the world to conduct such a launching after USA, USSR, UK, France, Sweden, Italy, Canada, Japan and Israel.

    • Rehbar-II followed a successful launch on 9th June 1962

  • 1963

    • Real-time active: Telstar 2

  • 1964

    • Creation of Intelsat

    • First geostationary satellite, second satellite in stationary orbit: Syncom 3

    • First Italian satellite: San Marco 1

Satellite history calendar1
Satellite History Calendar

  • 1965

    • Intelsat 1 becomes first commercial comsat: Early Bird

    • First real-time active for USSR: Molniya 1A

  • 1967

    • First geostationary meteorology payload: ATS 3

  • 1968

    • First European satellite: ESRO 2B

  • July 21, 1969: - First man on the moon

  • 1970

    • First Japanese satellite: Ohsumi

    • First Chinese satellite: Dong Fang Hong 01

  • 1971

    • First UK launched satellite: Prospero

    • ITU-WARC for Space Telecommunications

    • INTELSAT IV Launched

    • INTERSPUTNIK - Soviet Union equivalent of INTELSAT formed

  • 1974

    • First direct broadcasting satellite: ATS 6

  • 1976 

    • MARISAT - First civil maritime communications satellite service started

  • 1977 

    • EUTELSAT - European regional satellite

    • ITU-WARC for Space Telecommunications in the Satellite Service

  • 1979

    • Creation of Inmarsat

Satellite history calendar2
Satellite History Calendar

  • 1980 

    • INTELSAT V launched - 3 axis stabilized satellite built by Ford Aerospace

  • 1983 

    • ECS (EUTELSAT 1) launched - built by European consortium supervised by ESA

  • 1984 

    • UK's UNISAT TV DBS satellite project abandoned

    • First satellite repaired in orbit by the shuttle: SMM

  • 1985

    • First Brazilian satellite: Brazilsat A1

    • First Mexican satellite: Morelos 1

  • 1988

    • First Luxemburg satellite: Astra 1A

  • 1989

    • INTELSAT VI - one of the last big "spinners" built by Hughes

    • Creation of Panamsat - Begins Service

    • On 16 July 1990, Pakistan launched its first experimental satellite, BADR-I from China

  • 1990 

    • IRIDIUM, TRITIUM, ODYSSEY and GLOBALSTAR S-PCN projects proposed - CDMA designs more popular


  • 1992 

    • OLYMPUS finally launched - large European development satellite with Ka-band, DBTV and Ku-band SS/TDMA payloads - fails within 3 years

  • 1993 

    • INMARSAT II - 39 dBW EIRP global beam mobile satellite - built by Hughes/British Aerospace

  • 1994 

    • INTELSAT VIII launched - first INTELSAT satellite built to a contractor's design

    • Hughes describe SPACEWAY design

    • DirecTV begins Direct Broadcast to Home

  • 1995

    • Panamsat - First private company to provide global satellite services.

Satellite history calendar3
Satellite History Calendar

  • 1996 

    • INMARSAT III launched - first of the multibeam mobile satellites (built by GE/Marconi)

    • Echostar begins Diresct Broadcast Service

  • 1997 

    • IRIDIUM launches first test satellites

    • ITU-WRC'97

  • 1999 

    • AceS launch first of the L-band MSS Super-GSOs - built by Lockheed Martin

    • Iridium Bankruptcy - the first major failure?

  • 2000 

    • Globalstar begins service

    • Thuraya launch L-band MSS Super-GSO

  • 2001

    • XM Satellite Radio begins service

    • Pakistan’s 2nd Satellite, BADR-B was launched on 10 Dec 2001 at 9:15a from Baikonour Cosmodrome, Kazakistan

  • 2002

    • Sirius Satellite Radio begins service

    • Paksat-1, was deployed at 38 degrees E orbital slot in December 2002, Paksat-1, was deployed at 38 degrees E orbital slot in December 2002

  • 2004 

    • Teledesic network planned to start operation

  • 2005 

    • Intelsat and Panamsat Merge

    • VUSat OSCAR-52 (HAMSAT) Launched

  • 2006

    • CubeSat-OSCAR 56 (Cute-1.7) Launched

    • K7RR-Sat launched by California Politechnic University

  • 2007

    • Prism was launched by University of Tokyo

  • 2008

    • COMPASS-1; a project of Aachen University was launched from Satish Dawan Space Center, India. It failed to achieve orbit.


  • INTELSAT is the original "Inter-governmental Satellite organization". It once owned and operated most of the World's satellites used for international communications, and still maintains a substantial fleet of satellites.

  • INTELSAT is moving towards "privatization", with increasing competition from commercial operators (e.g. Panamsat, Loral Skynet, etc.).

  • INTELSAT Timeline:

  • Interim organization formed in 1964 by 11 countries

  • Permanent structure formed in 1973

  • Commercial "spin-off", New Skies Satellites in 1998

  • Full "privatization" by April 2001

  • INTELSAT has 143 members and signatories listed here.


  • Permanent General Secretariat opened September 1978

  • Intergovernmental Conference adopted definitive statutes with 26 members on 14 May 1982

  • Definitive organization entered into force on 1 September 1985

  • General Secretariat -> Executive Organ

  • Executive Council -> EUTELSAT Board of Signatories

  • Secretary General -> Director General

  • Current DG is Giuliano Berretta

  • Currently almost 50 members

  • Moving towards "privatization"

  • Limited company owning and controlling of all assets and activities

  • Also a "residual" intergovernmental organization which will ensure that basic principles of pan-European coverage, universal service, non-discrimination and fair competition are observed by the company

Communication satellite
Communication Satellite

  • A Communication Satellite can be looked upon as a large microwave repeater

  • It contains several transponders which listens to some portion of spectrum, amplifies the incoming signal and broadcasts it in another frequency to avoid interference with incoming signals.

Satellite missions
Satellite Missions

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists []

Satellite microwave transmission
Satellite Microwave Transmission

  • Satellites can relay signals over a long distance

  • Geostationary Satellites

    • Remain above the equator at a height of about 22300 miles (geosynchronous orbits)

    • Travel around the earth in exactly the same time, the earth takes to rotate

Space segment
Space Segment

  • Satellite Launching Phase

  • Transfer Orbit Phase

  • Deployment

  • Operation

    • TT&C - Tracking Telemetry and Command Station

    • SSC - Satellite Control Center, a.k.a.:

      • OCC - Operations Control Center

      • SCF - Satellite Control Facility

  • Retirement Phase

Ground segment
Ground Segment

  • Collection of facilities, Users and Applications

  • Earth Station = Satellite Communication Station

    (Fixed or Mobile)

Satellite uplink and downlink
Satellite Uplink and Downlink

  • Downlink

    • The link from a satellite down to one or more ground stations or receivers

  • Uplink

    • The link from a ground station up to a satellite.

  • Some companies sell uplink and downlink services to

    • television stations, corporations, and to other telecommunication carriers.

    • A company can specialize in providing uplinks, downlinks, or both.

Satellite communication1
Satellite Communication

Source: Cryptome []

  • When using a satellite for long distance communications, the satellite acts as a repeater.

  • An earth station transmits the signal up to the satellite (uplink), which in turn retransmits it to the receiving earth station (downlink).

  • Different frequencies are used for uplink/downlink.

Satellite transmission links
Satellite Transmission Links

  • Earth stations Communicate by sending signals to the satellite on an uplink

  • The satellite then repeats those signals on a downlink

  • The broadcast nature of downlink makes it attractive for services such as the distribution of TV programs

Direct to user services
Direct to User Services

One way Service (Broadcasting)

Two way Service (Communication)

Satellite signals
Satellite Signals

  • Used to transmit signals and data over long distances

    • Weather forecasting

    • Television broadcasting

    • Internet communication

    • Global Positioning Systems

Satellite transmission bands
Satellite Transmission Bands

The C band is the most frequently used. The Ka and Ku bands are reserved exclusively for satellite communication but are subject to rain attenuation

Types of satellite orbits
Types of Satellite Orbits

  • Based on the inclination, i, over the equatorial plane:

    • Equatorial Orbits above Earth’s equator (i=0°)

    • Polar Orbits pass over both poles (i=90°)

    • Other orbits called inclined orbits (0°<i<90°)

  • Based on Eccentricity

    • Circular with centre at the earth’s centre

    • Elliptical with one foci at earth’s centre

Types of satellite based networks
Types of Satellite based Networks

  • Based on the Satellite Altitude

    • GEO – Geostationary Orbits

      • 36000 Km = 22300 Miles, equatorial, High latency

    • MEO – Medium Earth Orbits

      • High bandwidth, High power, High latency

    • LEO – Low Earth Orbits

      • Low power, Low latency, More Satellites, Small Footprint

    • VSAT

      • Very Small Aperture Satellites

        • Private WANs

Satellite orbits
Satellite Orbits

Source: Federation of American Scientists []

  • Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO): 36,000 km above Earth, includes commercial and military communications satellites, satellites providing early warning of ballistic missile launch.

  • Medium Earth Orbit (MEO): from 5000 to 15000 km, they include navigation satellites (GPS, Galileo, Glonass).

  • Low Earth Orbit (LEO): from 500 to 1000 km above Earth, includes military intelligence satellites, weather satellites.

Geo geostationary orbit
GEO - Geostationary Orbit

  • In the equatorial plane

  • Orbital Period = 23 h 56 m 4.091 s

    = 1 sidereal day*

  • Satellite appears to be stationary over any point on equator:

    • Earth Rotates at same speed as Satellite

    • Radius of Orbit r = Orbital Height + Radius of Earth

    • Avg. Radius of Earth = 6378.14 Km

  • 3 Satellites can cover the earth (120° apart)

Ngso non geostationary orbits
NGSO - Non Geostationary Orbits

  • Orbit should avoid Van Allen radiation belts:

    • Region of charged particles that can cause damage to satellite

    • Occur at

      • ~2000-4000 km and

      • ~13000-25000 km

Leo low earth orbits
LEO - Low Earth Orbits

  • Circular or inclined orbit with < 1400 km altitude

    • Satellite travels across sky from horizon to horizon in 5 - 15 minutes => needs handoff

    • Earth stations must track satellite or have Omni directional antennas

    • Large constellation of satellites is needed for continuous communication (66 satellitesneeded to cover earth)

    • Requires complex architecture

    • Requires tracking at ground

Heo highly elliptical orbits
HEO - Highly Elliptical Orbits

  • HEOs (i = 63.4°) are suitable to provide coverage at high latitudes (including North Pole in the northern hemisphere)

  • Depending on selected orbit (e.g. Molniya, Tundra, etc.) two or three satellites are sufficient for continuous time coverage of the service area.

  • All traffic must be periodically transferred from the “setting” satellite to the “rising” satellite (Satellite Handover)

Satellite orbits2
Satellite Orbits

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists []

Advantages of satellite communication
Advantages of Satellite Communication

  • Can reach over large geographical area

  • Flexible (if transparent transponders)

  • Easy to install new circuits

  • Circuit costs independent of distance

  • Broadcast possibilities

  • Temporary applications (restoration)

  • Niche applications

  • Mobile applications (especially "fill-in")

  • Terrestrial network "by-pass"

  • Provision of service to remote or underdeveloped areas

  • User has control over own network

  • 1-for-N multipoint standby possibilities

Disadvantages of satellite communication
Disadvantages of Satellite Communication

  • Large up front capital costs (space segment and launch)

  • Terrestrial break even distance expanding (now approx. size of Europe)

  • Interference and propagation delay

  • Congestion of frequencies and orbits

When to use satellites
When to use Satellites

  • When the unique features of satellite communications make it attractive

  • When the costs are lower than terrestrial routing

  • When it is the only solution

  • Examples:

    • Communications to ships and aircraft (especially safety communications)

    • TV services - contribution links, direct to cable head, direct to home

    • Data services - private networks

    • Overload traffic

    • Delaying terrestrial investments

    • 1 for N diversity

    • Special events

When to use terrestrial
When to use Terrestrial

  • PSTN - satellite is becoming increasingly uneconomic for most trunk telephony routes

  • but, there are still good reasons to use satellites for telephony such as: thin routes, diversity, very long distance traffic and remote locations.

  • Land mobile/personal communications - in urban areas of developed countries new terrestrial infrastructure is likely to dominate (e.g. GSM, etc.)

  • but, satellite can provide fill-in as terrestrial networks are implemented, also provide similar services in rural areas and underdeveloped countries

Frequency bands allocated to the fss
Frequency Bands Allocated to the FSS

  • Frequency bands are allocated to different services at World Radio-communication Conferences (WRCs).

  • Allocations are set out in Article S5 of the ITU Radio Regulations.

  • It is important to note that (with a few exceptions) bands are generally allocated to more than one radio services.


    • Bands have traditionally been divided into “commercial" and "government/military" bands, although this is not reflected in the Radio Regulations and is becoming less clear-cut as "commercial" operators move to utilize "government" bands.

Earth s atmosphere
Earth’s atmosphere

Source: All about GPS []

Atmospheric losses
Atmospheric Losses

  • Different types of atmospheric losses can disturb radio wave transmission in satellite systems:

    • Atmospheric absorption

    • Atmospheric attenuation

    • Traveling ionospheric disturbances

Atmospheric absorption
Atmospheric Absorption

  • Energy absorption by atmospheric gases, which varies with the frequency of the radio waves.

  • Two absorption peaks are observed (for 90º elevation angle):

    • 22.3 GHz from resonance absorption in water vapour (H2O)

    • 60 GHz from resonance absorption in oxygen (O2)

  • For other elevation angles:

    • [AA] = [AA]90 cosec 

Source: Satellite Communications, Dennis Roddy, McGraw-Hill

Atmospheric attenuation
Atmospheric Attenuation

  • Rain is the main cause of atmospheric attenuation (hail, ice and snow have little effect on attenuation because of their low water content).

  • Total attenuation from rain can be determined by:

    • A = L [dB]

    • where  [dB/km] is called the specific attenuation, and can be calculated from specific attenuation coefficients in tabular form that can be found in a number of publications

    • where L [km] is the effective path length of the signal through the rain; note that this differs from the geometric path length due to fluctuations in the rain density.

Traveling ionospheric disturbances
Traveling Ionospheric Disturbances

  • Traveling ionospheric disturbances are clouds of electrons in the ionosphere that provoke radio signal fluctuations which can only be determined on a statistical basis.

  • The disturbances of major concern are:

    • Scintillation;

    • Polarisation rotation.

  • Scintillations are variations in the amplitude, phase, polarisation, or angle of arrival of radio waves, caused by irregularities in the ionosphere which change over time.

  • The main effect of scintillations is fading of the signal.

What is polarisation
What is Polarisation?

  • Polarisation is the property of electromagnetic waves that describes the direction of the transverse electric field.

  • Since electromagnetic waves consist of an electric and a magnetic field vibrating at right angles to each other.

  • it is necessary to adopt a convention to determine the polarisation of the signal.

  • Conventionally, the magnetic field is ignored and the plane of the electric field is used.

Types of polarisation
Types of Polarisation

  • Linear Polarisation (horizontal or vertical):

    • the two orthogonal components of the electric field are in phase;

    • The direction of the line in the plane depends on the relative amplitudes of the two components.

  • Circular Polarisation:

    • The two components are exactly 90º out of phase and have exactly the same amplitude.

  • Elliptical Polarisation:

    • All other cases.

Linear Polarisation

Circular Polarisation

Elliptical Polarisation

Satellite communications
Satellite Communications

  • Alternating vertical and horizontal polarisation is widely used on satellite communications

  • This reduces interference between programs on the same frequency band transmitted from adjacent satellites (One uses vertical, the next horizontal, and so on)

  • Allows for reduced angular separation between the satellites.

Information Resources for Telecommunication Professionals


Related information
Related Information



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Assignment 1
Assignment #1

  • Read the paper of Arthur C. Clark and summarize his suggestions to support Satellite for Communication purposes

  • Visit and visit JTrack-3D Link under Important Links section to complete the assignment

    • You need to find out the satellite name of PakSat-1 in JTrack-3D and send a snapshot of JTrack-3D with PakSat-1 in it