The United State's biggest and most powerful communications satellite is due to be launched on 30 May.
The United State's biggest and most powerful communications satellite is due to be launched on 30 May. The Applications Technology Satellite -- the ATS-F four short -- will provide a wide range of communications experiments from its orbit 22,300 miles (37,000 kms) above the earth.
One of the project's most important functions will be to broadcast radio and colour television health and education programmes to remote American mountain communities in Alaska, the Apalachians and the Rocky Mountains.
The ATS-F will pioneer the work of future air traffic control by satellite, relaying more precise navigation information to jetliners crossing the Atlantic and providing them with continuous contact with ground stations.
It will also speed up weather forecasting, beaming information from a low-orbit nimbus weather satellite -- whose transmission range is limited by its low level -- over a much greater range.
One year after its launch, the satellite will be moved to a new orbit so that it can transmit to India, broadcasting educational programmes to 5,000 remote villages.
SYNOPSIS: The National Aeronautics and Space Agency reports that this vehicle sets the pattern for its communications satellites of the future. Its versatility shows the engrmous strides that have been made since ???eistar, Echo and Early Bird -- the communications satellites of over a decade ago.