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British Satellite Broadcasting-R1 (BSB-R1), a British television direct broadcasting satellite known as Marcopolo 1, was launched by the US using a Delta rocket. It was the first commercial launch for a US launch vehicle and also heralded a new industry trend wherein the satellite maker must certify that the vehicle is safely in orbit before transferring control to the operator. Hughes Space and Communications Group designed and built Marcopolo 1 for British Satellite Broadcasting Ltd, and purchased insurance and launch vehicle service as well. Based on the standard Hughes H376 bus, Marcopolo 1 was 2.1 m in diameter and 2.7 m tall when stowed. With solar drum deployed and antenna reflector raised, it extended to 7.2 m. It weighed 1,220 kg at launch, 660 kg on orbit. The payload housed five 110-W Ku-band channels for direct broadcast to users with antennas as small as 0.3 m. The satellite's high power requirements were fulfilled via longer solar panels covered with large area solar cells, and nickel cadmium batteries. Output at the beginning of its 10-year life was 1,100 W. Its apogee kick motor was fired 38 hrs, 53 mns after launch, boosting the satellite towards it geosynchronous station at 31 deg. w.

Alternate Names

  • 20193
  • British Sat Broadcasting
  • Marco Polo 1
  • Marcopolo 1

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1989-08-27
Launch Vehicle: Delta
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 660 kg
Nominal Power: 1100 W

Funding Agencies

  • British Satellite Broadcasting (United Kingdom)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (United States)


  • Communications

Additional Information

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

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