In August 2005, a Hughes team achieved a major milestone when it assumed the control and monitoring of DIRECTV’s SPACEWAY 1 satellite payload. This next-generation satellite, developed by Hughes Network Systems and the Boeing Company, is being readied for commercial service by DIRECTV to provide high-definition TV to customers throughout the U.S.
The SPACEWAY payload monitoring occurs continuously around the clock. According to Bob Buschman, vice president of the Hughes SPACEWAY group, “The SPACEWAY team likes to compare payload monitoring to the infamous Maytag repairman—an extremely high level of accuracy means nothing is likely to go wrong, but the payload controller is ready to act quickly, just in case. Although outage events are rare, a random failure could occur in the electronics, which might require a change in payload configuration.”
This milestone marks the first time that a SPACEWAY payload has actually been managed in space. Hughes controllers are gaining valuable experience monitoring the SPACEWAY 1 payload, which will be especially useful when Hughes launches its SPACEWAY 3 broadband satellite service projected for early 2007.
SPACEWAY 3 represents a fundamental advance in satellite technology. It’s the world’s first satellite system that will switch and route traffic on board, thereby enabling single-hop communications and eliminating the need for a ground-based network operations center. Operating in globally assigned Ka-band spectrum and employing high-performance digital processing, packet switching, and spot-beam technology, SPACEWAY’s overall capacity and two-way throughput will be 10 times greater than today’s conventional Ku-band satellites. Using compact, cost-efficient terminals, SPACEWAY’s capabilities will unlock a wealth of high-performance, value-added solutions for Hughes customers.