Worlds of David Darling
Encyclopedia of Science
Home > Encyclopedia of Science

ATS (Applications Technology Satellite)

ATS (Applications Technology Satellite) was a series of NASA satellites designed to explore and flight-test new technologies and techniques for communications, navigation, and weather satellites. Among the areas investigated during the program were spin stabilization, gravity gradient stabilization, complex synchronous maneuvering, communications experiments, and the GSO (geostationary orbit) environment. Although the ATS flights were intended mainly as test-beds, they also collected and transmitted weather data and worked at times as communications satellites.

ATS 1 took the first U.S. high-quality photographs of the Earth from synchronous orbit, showing the changing cloud-cover patterns. In addition to weather data, the satellite relayed color television across the United States and voice signals from the ground to aircraft in flight. ATS 3 carried advanced communications, meteorology, and navigation experiments and made high-resolution color photographs of one complete side of the Earth. ATS 6, as well as carrying out technology experiments, became the world's first education satellite, transmitting educational programs to India, the United States, and other countries. It was the first communications satellite with the power to broadcast TV photos to small local receivers. It also played a major role in docking during the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. All the ATS missions were launched from Cape Canaveral.

spacecraft launch date launch vehicle GSO location mass (kg)
ATS 1 Dec. 7, 1966 Atlas-Agena D 10° W 352
ATS 2 Apr. 6, 1967 Atlas-Agena D failed to reach correct orbit 370
ATS 3 Nov. 5, 1967 Atlas-Agena D 105° W 365
ATS 4 Aug. 10, 1968 Atlas LV-3C failed to reach correct orbit 391
ATS 5 Aug. 12, 1969 Atlas LV-3C 108° W 821
ATS 6 May 30, 1974 Titan IIIC 1.6° W 930

Related category