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Highlights from 2010

April 8 – A solar flare caused Intelsat to lose flight control of its Galaxy 15 satellite and sent it drifting across the orbital arc.  Dubbed "zombiesat" by the press, G15 kept transmitting, which posed an interference threat across the US domestic arc.  Intelsat successfully transitioned its media customers to Galaxy 12 without interruption of service, however, and closely coordinated with other satellite operators to avoid impact on their operations. By the end of December, Intelsat regained control of the satellite and brought the "zombiesat" incident to a welcome close.

June 4 – The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched and achieved Earth orbit, delivering the Dragon spacecraft to its targeted 250 km (155 mi) circular orbit. That launch secured a contract from Iridium to carry multiple Iridium Next constellation satellites on Falcon 9 rockets, in addition to previously signed contracts with Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), Spacecom and Israel Aerospace Industries, and marked a major milestone for the innovative launch system.

Harris/CapRock and Encompass Digital Media – For US teleport operators, 2010 was about the big getting bigger.  During the first half of the year, Crawford Communications purchased Andrita Productions and renamed itself Encompass Digital Media, becoming a dominant US service provider.  In July, Harris completed its acquisition of CapRock Communications, which became Harris CapRock, a global service provider to government and the resource extraction industry.

August 8 – Inmarsat signed an agreement with Boeing for the purchase of three state-of-the-art 702HP Ka-band satellites that, through a new network, will deliver speeds of up to 50 megabits per second (Mbps) to customers. The satellites will make up the revolutionary new Inmarsat-5 (I-5) constellation and enable the company to deliver a unique global high-speed mobile broadband service offering. With operations expected to start in 2014, the Inmarsat-5s will support a next generation global service, called Global Xpress™, which will target a US$1.4 billion incremental market for VSAT services.

October 19 – Globalstar launched the first 6 satellites in its next-generation fleet aboard a Soyuz rocket. Each Globalstar-2 satellite, built by Thales Alenia Space, weighed approximately 650 kg at launch. The new constellation features an optimized design to provide telephone and data transmission services to businesses and individuals in more than 120 countries.

October 27 – Sea Launch completed its Chapter 11 reorganization process. As part of the court-approved reorganization, Energia Overseas Limited (EOL), a Russian corporation, acquired a majority ownership of the new Sea Launch.

November 15 – LightSquared™, the nation’s first planned wholesale-only integrated wireless broadband and satellite network, successfully launched its SkyTerra 1 satellite. Launched by International Launch Services aboard the Proton Breeze M vehicle, the satellite is a Boeing 702HP built by Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems.

December 26 – The Ka-band market received a boost with the successful launch of the KA-SAT satellite for Eutelsat. The EADS Astrium-built satellite is configured with 82 Ka-band spotbeams and a network of ten ground stations connecting to the Internet backbone. 

About the Timeline


The SSPI Satellite Timeline is the first interactive site on the Web to chronicle the rich and diverse history of the commercial satellite industry. Launched in October 2007 - the 50th anniversary of Sputnik - the Timeline is a learning tool for satellite professionals, students, the news media and the innovative companies that make up the industry.

Click on the image above to tour the decades of the Satellite Era.

We Welcome Your Participation

You can help to build the Satellite Timeline in two ways:

  • Propose an Event. New events are added regularly to the Timeline based on suggestions from the industry. To propose an event, click on the link below and complete the online form. You will receive an email confirmation.


  • Sponsor the Timeline. SSPI offers companies the opportunity to associate their brand with SSPI's celebration of satellite history. Companies may sponsor a single event, an entire decade or the complete Timeline, and propose events related to their sponsorship. Click on the link below for the sponsorship prospectus.

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Review Committee

All events for the Satellite Timeline are reviewed for accuracy and relevance by the SSPI Awards Committee, chaired by Dr. Joseph Pelton, Director, Space Advanced Communications Research Institute at George Washington University.

To be included in the Timeline, events must have enabled the peaceful commercial and scientific use of LEO, MEO or GEO orbit and have contributed in meanigful ways to the development of satellite technologies, services and markets.



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