Online Journal of Space Communication


The Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS) was conceived at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) as a follow-on program to its long history in satellite communications projects that have reduced the risk of developing new technologies that fall outside the sponsorship capability of the private sector.

To counter the foreign challenge that developed in the late 1970's to the once insuperable U.S. lead in this field, ACTS was developed to maintain the U.S. preeminence. Launched in September 1993 from the space shuttle, key technologies on ACTS include a multibeam antenna, a baseband processor, a 900-MHz wideband microwave switch matrix, adaptive rain fade compensation techniques, and the use of Ka-band frequencies. Since this is the United States' first effort in using Ka-band for satellite communications, beacons are incorporated on the satellite, which provide an opportunity for propagation measurements.

NASA sponsored a network of propagation experimenters using these beacons and receive-only terminals identical in design. This paper provides some history leading to the eventual development of ACTS. Also, a system overview of the spacecraft is provided for those less familiar with it.

Keywords: ACTS, beacons, Ka-band, propagation measurements, 30/20 GHz program.



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