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The FLTSATCOM (Fleet Satellite Communications) communications satellite system served as a world-wide UHF communications link among USN aircraft, ships, submarines, and ground stations. This high-capacity spaceborne communications system gave the Navy both shore-to-fleet and single-way communication among ships, aircraft, and submarines separated by distances exceeding line-of-sight UHF ranges. The satellite provided 30 voice channels and 12 teletypewriter channels simultaneously in UHF. The UHF upline was in the 290- to 320-MHz range, while UHF downlink was in the 240- to 27-MHz range. Transmissions in the S-band were used for commands and beacons. A number of these channels were reserved for high-priority USAF ground-to-air communications with SAC aircraft, the E-3A airborne warning and control system, and elements of the presidential command structure. The satellite was hexagonal in shape and approximately 1.7 m high and 2.7 m in diameter. An erectable 5.3-m wire mesh parabolic communications antenna with a 2-m solid-center section extended from one end of the satellite. Protruding from the opposite end was the nozzle of the satellite's off-loaded apogee motor. Unlike most military and commercial communications satellites, the FLTSATCOM satellites used a triaxial stabilization system utilizing a reaction control wheel assembly instead of spin stabilization. Electrical power (1.1 kw dc) was provided by 2 three-section solar panels mounted on booms extending from the satellites body and unfolded in space. Nickel-cadmium batteries provided power during solar eclipses. The USN and USAF plan to orbit four satellites, including one as an on-station spare, positioned around the world in near-equatorial geosynchronous orbits to provide near-global coverage. The FSC satellite was the heaviest communications satellite the United States had attempted to orbit, exceeding the previous leader, TACSAT-1, by over 250 lbs.

Alternate Names

  • 10669
  • FSC-1

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1978-02-09
Launch Vehicle: Atlas-Centaur
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 1842 kg

Funding Agency

  • Department of Defense-Department of the Navy (United States)


  • Communications

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. Henry O. SloneProject ManagerNASA Lewis Research Center
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