The Garuda satellites that provide global support for mobile telephone communications users in Asia; "Garuda" is Sanskrit for "eagle." Launched by a Proton rocket on February 13, 2000, from Baikonur, Garuda-1 is the first satellite of a constellation that comprises the ACeS (Asia System Cellular Satellite) system. ACeS began in 1995 as a joint venture between three large Asian communications companies: Pacific Satelit Nusantara (PSN) of Indonesia, the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and Jasmine International Overseas of Thailand. In December 1998, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, called Global Telecommunications, also joined the venture. Not coincidentally, Lockheed Martin builds the Garuda spacecraft, based on its large A 2100 bus. The second ACeS satellite, Garuda-2, will serve first as a backup to Garuda-1 and then allow the ACeS system to expand coverage to western and central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and northern Africa.
The Garuda spacecraft is equipped with giant 15-meter (49-foot) umbrella-like L-band antennas, which dwarf the antennas of previous commercial satellites – usually not larger than 4.5 meters (14.8 feet). They allow it to transmit 16,000 phone calls simultaneously, within 140 spot beams, from a geostationary orbit 36,000 km (22,370 miles) over the equator. The spacecraft's control center is located on Batam Island, Indonesia.