The world's busiest space vehicle, Applications Technology Satellite (ATS-1), will be joined by its younger brother on November 7th.
Pilot at controls
Jet over water
Antenna test equipment
DC-8 in flight
DC-8 in flight
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Background: The world's busiest space vehicle, Applications Technology Satellite (ATS-1), will be joined by its younger brother on November 7th. The two vehicles are part of what has been described as "a new era in the use of spacecraft".....a communications system that eventually will include five satellites.
The 700-pound ATS-1 was hurled into a stationary orbit 22,600 miles above the earth last December. since then, the satellite has been transmitting meteorological data back to earth and relaying colour television pictures around the world."
At the same time, ATS-1 has been involved in a series of experiments which the national space agency and the airline industry say will enable the pilot of any commercial aircraft in the world to communicate with distant ground stations using very high frequency radio...or VHF. Since the VHF travels only in straight line and does not follow the curvature of the earth, its range is limited.
During the long overwater flight the airlines now use longer-range HF, or high frequency radio, which will follow the curvature, but which is subject to disruption by sunspots and disturbances in the ionosphere.
Special antenna aboard the aircraft and on the ground enable the pilot to beam straight-line VHF signals through special communications packages to the satellite, which, in turn, relays the signal to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre in Maryland...far out of the aircraft's normal VHF range.
NASA and airline industry are confident the tests will hasten the day when reliable, static-free, and constant volume VHF radio can be used to relay up-to-the-minute information from any ground station to the pilot of any aircraft anywhere in the world.