A series of experimental communications
satellites, built by Hughes Aircraft, that demonstrated the feasibility
of geosynchronous operation.
A nitrogen tank explosion crippled Syncom 1 during its apogee burn, leaving
Syncom 2 to become the first successful geosynchronous satellite. However,
because its orbit was inclined to the equator, it did not remain absolutely
fixed over the same spot but described instead a lazy figure-eight path
north and south of the equator every day. Ground stations followed its movements
in latitude, thus making it available 24 hours a day.
The first geostationary satellite
was Syncom 3, launched to provide live daily TV coverage of the 1964 Tokyo
Olympics which it did successfully. The two functioning Syncoms were eventually
handed over to the Department of Defense to provide reliable transpacific
communications; Syncom 2 was "walked" along the equator using its control
thrusters, until it had joined its sister on the other side of the globe.
Syncom was the descendant of Relay
and Telstar and the immediate of more capable
geostationary satellites such as Intelsat.
||Feb. 14, 1963
||contact lost after orbital injection
||Jul. 26, 1963
||35,891 × 35,891 km × 32.7°
||Aug. 19, 1964
||35,784 × 35,792 km × 0.1°
AND SPACE PROBES