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Featured Satellite - Thuraya-3
by Hartley Lesser

On January 15th, the third of Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company’s satellites, Thuraya-3, was successfully vaulted into orbit by Sea Launch aboard a Zenit-3SL rocket.

The Thuraya-3 satellite was built by Boeing and has a designed lifetime of 12 years. Thuraya, based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and founded by a consortium of national telecom operators and investment firms, offers MSS services to more than 110 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.

This powerful satellite was one of the first to use Boeing’s GEM (Geomobile) series, which evolved from the company’s 601 and 601HP spacecraft, resulting in the Boeing 702 design. Power ranges are up to 18 kW through the use of dual and triple-junction gallium arsenide solar cells, developed by Boeing subsidiary Spectrolab, Inc.

Additionally, the satellite boasts an advanced xenon ion propulsion system, which is 10x more powerful than conventional systems using liquid fuel. The satellite requires only about 5-kg of fuel per year.

Lifting off from the Odyssey Launch Platform at 154° W, a Zenit-3SL rocket placed the 5,173 kg (11,381-lb) Thuraya 3 satellite into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit, with the spacecraft separating from the upper stage at 1,388 miles above the Pacific Ocean. The flight plan called for deployment into a 6.2 degree inclined orbit, an optimal orbital location for the Thuraya system.

Two-and-a-half minutes after liftoff, the first stage, and then the payload fairing separated. Six minutes later, the second stage separated from the Block DM upper stage. After the first burn of the Block DM, the spacecraft coasted in a parking orbit for one hour, performing thermal maneuvers, such as a slow roll, to maintain a benign satellite environment. Following this coast, the Block DM burned a second time for about six minutes and then coasted again until spacecraft separation, over the Pacific Ocean, north of New Zealand. Boeing acquired a signal from the spacecraft at a ground station in Fillmore, California. This was Sea Launch’s 25th mission completion.

With a designed lifetime of 12.5 years, the satellite will be positioned in Geosynchronous Orbit, 35,786 km (22,236 miles) above the Earth, at 98.5 degrees East Longitude.

For additional imagery and launch information, go to the Sea Launch Thuraya-3 website.

The Thuraya-3 satellite offers cell-like data and voice services such as GSM-compatible mobile telephone capabilities. These are received and transmitted via one 12.25-m aperture reflector, and the spacecraft can handle 13,750 simultaneous voice circuits as well as create more than 200 spot beams, all available to be redirected while on orbit. Digital processing and beam forming are handled onboard. Thuraya offers satellite, cellular (GSM) service and location determination system (GPS) in a single dual mode handset that is lightweight, elegant, and easy to use. The dynamic handset offers voice, data, fax, and short messaging services.

The company’s ground segment includes network operations center and satellite control facility in the UAE, collocated with their terrestrial gateways. Through partnership with leading national telecom and mobile communications companies, Thuraya provides blanket coverage to more than 110 countries in Europe, North, Central Africa and large parts of Southern Africa, the Middle East, Central and South Asia: a landmass inhabited by an estimated 2.3 billion people. The Primary Gateway in Sharjah, UAE, serves the entire Thuraya coverage area, and plans are underway to establish additional national gateways at other locations as necessary.

Thuraya offers a wide range of accessories that complement Thuraya phone, as well as items that are designed to enhance mobility and communication while facilitating the usage of Thuraya products. Thuraya’s state-of-the-art Indoor Enabler—ThurayaFDU-3500—allows the usage of Thuraya SG-2520 and Thuraya SO-2510 phones in homes or offices, and supports all of the standard satellite based services such as voice, fax, data and new supplementary services such as Internet connectivity (i.e. GmPRS) in an indoor environment.

Other accessories are available for the phones, the Thuraya SO-2520 and Thuraya 2510, as well as Hughes and Ascom phones. The phone accessories include the Car Charger, Travel Charger, Solar Charger, USB Data Cable, Batteries, and Earset as well as their Maritime Antenna and the Thuraya Solar Panel. For complete information on accessories, go to this Thuraya accessory website.