Russian Contract Calls for HSC to Build BONUM-1—Hughes Electronics Herald November 7, 1997.

Hughes Space and Communications International (HSCI), Inc., has been awarded its first Russian contract for a telecommunications satellite, launch vehicle services, and ground station control equipment from BONUM-1.

BONUM-1 is a subsidiary of Media Most, a major Russian media group, which is developing satellite broadcasting services in Russia. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“As the world’s premier direct-to-home service provider, we at Hughes are proud to have been selected to build BONUM-1,” said Donald Cromer, president of Hughes Space and Communications (HSC) Company, which will manufacture the spacecraft.

“We are pleased to be chosen for this award and to be able to support this growing region of the world.”

The new satellite, which will bear the name of its owner, will be an HS 376 high –power model satellite and will provide digital direct-to-home television services to the western part of Russia.

The satellite is scheduled for delivery in-orbit in November 1998 and will be launched on a Boeing Delta II launch vehicle. BONUM-1 will be located at 36 degrees east longitude and will have a life of 11 years.

HSC also will provide the BONUM-1 ground satellite contro equipment for use at the control center and will provide training to the satellite controllers.

BONUM-1 will contain eight active Ku-band transponders, which, as a result of digital compression technology, will be capable of providing 50 channels using 75-wattt traveling wave tube amplifiers.

BONUM-1 is the 53rd HS 376 model satellite to be ordered from Hughes by customers around the world, and will be built at HSC’s Integrated Satellite Factory in El Segundo, Calif. HSCI is the international marketing organization within HSC.

Editor’s Note: BONUM-1 was successfully launched on November 22, 1998 from the Kennedy Space Center.  It was subsequently moved to 56 degrees east longitude and will be retired at the end of 2013.

FCC Reduced Spacing Decree Sets off Competition for Remaining Orbital Slots from the SCG Journal September 1983 transcribed by Faith MacPherson

HC Wants Four – Only Seven Left

In a landmark action which both illustrates that less is indeed more, and changes the orbital slot allocation practices of the past 20 years, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided last month to cut nearly in half the amount of mandatory room between satellites in geostationary orbit, thereby opening the equatorial skies straddling North and South America to 30 new domestic fixed service birds.

At the same time, the FCC release set a clock running. The report and order stated that in order to be considered for the next round of orbital slot assignments, companies must submit their applications for permission to build, launch, and operate satellites within 60 days from the date that the reduced spacing decree appeared in the Federal Register. The decree was published Sept. 6.

In announcing its decision to reduce the minimum distance between geosync satellites from 4 degrees of arc (approximately 2,000 miles at geosync altitude) to 2 degrees for Ku band (14/12 GHz) birds and to an average 2.5 degrees for C banders (6/4 GHz), the commission cited the growth in space technology which has lead to the expanding constellation of satellites and, in turn, to increased demand for orbital transmission services. It added, “This appears to be the only practicable method that both satisfies the request for satellite communications services and continues the commission’s policy of open entry (to space).”

In the same report and order explaining the reduced spacing, the commission also formally reaffirmed its earlier “go-ahead” authorizations, issued in April to 10 firms, to build, launch, and operate 19 new or previously constructed domsats (SCG Journal, May 1983). One of those vehicles is Hughes Communications’ Galaxy III, scheduled for launch July 1984. The FCC also gave approval for the sale of all the satellite’s transponders.

Two of the 10 applications, Rainbow and USSSI have issued requests for proposals. However, the FCC has said that the companies must sign contracts with satellite builders and prove that their projects have adequate funding by Dec. 31, 1983, or the firms will lose their slot allocations.

The commission’s “open door” policy notwithstanding, there are now very few orbital slots left – and, as is usual in such cases, many more applications. With the 2– and average 2.5- degrees spacing in effect, parking spots are available for two more C band vehicles, four Ku band spacecoms, and one hybrid (C and Ku band) satellite – a total of seven slots. In contrast, the seven firms who’ve filed thus far are asking for a total of five C band positions, 10 Ku band satellite spaces, and two for hybrids. Total: 17 slots – more than twice as many orbital locations as are available. And the competition hasn’t closed; the FCC has said it will accept applications until 5 p.m. on Nov. 7, 1983.

How is the commission going to determine who gets slots and who doesn’t? That’s the big question with which the applicants, Hughes Communications among them, are concerned these days. The SCG subsidiary has filed for a C band slot for Galaxy IV, and for three Ku band locations for its planned HS 393, HC3 system. The FCC has indicated that it may toss out applications that don’t supply all the information requested. The reporting requirements are the same as before. But the FCC said that because of the paucity of slots, the commission will adhere to its rules more strictly this time around. HC, and presumably the other contenders, is now reviewing its apps to see if there’s any input missing.

Here are the seven firms who have filed thus far, and their requests:

C band:

• Cablesat General – two slots (new business opportunity).

• Hughes Communications – one slot.

• Western Union – two slots (new business opportunity).

Five requests; two slots available.


• Ford Aerospace – two slots; one available. Ku band:

• GTE – two slots (new business opportunity).

• National Exchange Inc. – two slots (new business opportunity).

• Hughes Communications – three slots (new business opportunity).

• Western Union – three slots (new business opportunity).

Ten slots requested; four available.



FCC Opens Door to New Domestic Satellites from the SCG Journal August 1985 transcribed by Faith MacPherson

In a long-awaited action which should have a major impact on quiescent sales of commercial communications spacecraft, the FCC on July 25 authorized construction of 23 new U.S. domestic birds and the launch of 25 more. In addition, the commission for the first time approved the application of two would-be operators of private international satellite systems to compete or business services with INTELSAT, SCG’s largest commercial customer and the 110-nation global satellite consortium that carries most world-wide telephone and television transmissions.

The FCC’s authorizations were the first grantings of fixed-service satellite system licenses by the commission in over two years. Fixed-service means that the satellites receive and transmit signals from and to ground stations that are usually not mobile. Traditionally, such systems relay telephone, television, computer data, telex, and facsimile services.

“We’ve been anticipating this action on the part of the FCC, and we’re pretty pleased, to say the least,” says Dick Brandes, manager of Commercial Systems Division. He explains, “This could be a real shot in the arm for the division.” which has been experiencing, along with RCA, Ford, and other commercial spacecraft builders, a predicted temporary dropoff in sales. SCG sold one HS 376 bird – a replacement – in 1984, but so far this year has received two system contracts from Hughes Communications Inc.: one for a U.S. television direct broadcast system, and the other covering a pair of HS 393 spacecraft and associated ground links to serve a Japanese domestic space system.

How the FCC’s new system grants will affect sales ultimately depends on whether the new licensees decide to issue requests for proposals and then eventually pick contractors to build spacecraft and supporting ground stations. But, says Mike Houterman, assistant manager of Division 43’s Advanced Projects Laboratory, “This opens up the marketplace once again. It’s a major event.”

Receiving new U.S. domestic satellite licenses are: Comsat General Corp. (Ku band), Federal Express Corp. (Ku band), Ford Aerospace Satellite Services Corp. (C and Ku band), Hughes Communications Inc. (Ku band), and Martin Marietta Communications Systems (Ku band). Each firm may build and operate two in-orbit satellites, with a ground spare.

Companies cleared by the commission to operate private international satellite systems are International Satellite Inc. and PanAmerican Satellite.

Hughes Communications Galaxy Inc. was among seven operators which got the FCC’s OK to add an additional satellite to their constellations. The other firms are Alascom Inc., American Satellite Co., GTE Satellite Corp. and GTE Spacenet Corp., RCA American Communications Inc., and Satellite Business Systems.

Western Union, a longtime SCG customer, received the go-ahead to add two spacecraft to its fleet.

ALBERT WHEELON 1929-2013 Key figure in the development of satellite industry–Ralph Vartabedian Los Angeles Times October 1, 2013 reprinted with permisssion

Albert “Bud” Wheelon, one of the nation’s central figures in the development of the first spy satellite and later the commercial communications satellite industry, has died. He was 84.

INNOVATOR Albert Wheelon helped build Hughes into the largest satellite firm

INNOVATOR Albert Wheelon helped build Hughes into the largest satellite firm

Wheelon, who became one of California’s most important technological innovators in aerospace, leaving behind a multbillion-dollar enterprise and making key contributions to national security, died Friday at his home in Montecito, Calif.

Under Wheelon’s guidance as the first science and technology director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the U.S. invented the photo reconnaissance satellite during the early 1960s.

The spacecraft, bearing the code name Corona, gave U.S. military planners their first concrete assessment of the capabilities of the Soviet Union during the tensest days of the nuclear arms race, when some feared that the communists had opened a wide superiority over the U.S. in nuclear warheads.

The grainy black-and-white images sent by Corona, dropped into the atmosphere in film canisters that were captured in midflight by aircraft, helped to contain the arms race from ever greater extremes, Wheelon said decades later when the program was declassified.

“Bud was one of the giants of aerospace,” said Steven Dorfman, a business associate at Hughes and later a friend of Wheelon’s. “He was an exceptional scientist and an extraordinary judge of people, a great organizer.”

After serving at the CIA for four years, Wheelon moved back to Los Angeles, where he grew up, and in 1967 took over the nascent satellite business of Hughes Aircraft. Over the next two decades, Hughes would become the dominant manufacturer of communications satellites and one of the major private employers in California. At its peak, more than half of the satellites in orbit were built by Hughes at its sprawling factory in El Segundo, which today is owned by Boeing and employs about 5,000 people.

Wheelon could be a tough boss and was known to not tolerate fools.

“He turned off a lot of timid people, who would leave his office trembling,” said Robert Roney, who served as Wheelon’s deputy at the satellite business for 15 years. “My job was to calm down nerves. It was a full-time job. But Bud was a great leader and eventually became greatly admired.”

It was Wheelon who built Hughes’ business in spy satellites, which eventually accounted for half of its sales. And Wheelon became convinced that building commercial satellites alone would be a low-profit business, as other companies attempted to compete. Hughes became a major provider of satellite communications services, which became the biggest profit center of the company. All the major television networks relied on Hughes to transmit their signals across the nation.

But for all of his success in business and technology, Wheelon was ousted from Hughes Aircraft in 1988 after it was purchased by General Motors.

By then, Wheelon had become chairman of the entire company. He began butting heads with GM when he launched an internal investigation into possible foreign bribes on an air defense contact for Egypt. GM officials contended that there was no evidence of wrongdoing and wanted Wheelon to drop the matter because it could damage the automaker’s other business in Egypt.

Wheelon refused to give up the internal probe. The matter grew more tangled when the Justice Department began investigating allegations that Wheelon himself was involved in making bribes in South America.

But after a five-year investigation, the Justice Department dropped the matter without bringing any charges.

Wheelon felt he had been wronged by GM, he told The Times in a series of interviews. As the years went by, he regained his reputation and received awards from the CIA, NASA and professional organizations.

Wheelon was born Jan. 18, 1929, in Moline, Ill. His father, Albert, was an aerospace engineer who brought the family to Los Angeles in a Model T in 1936 so that he could work at Douglas Aircraft Co. Eventually, Wheelon’s father helped to pioneer heat shields for early U.S. spacecraft at a time when his son was beginning to make his mark in space, said Marcia Wheelon, a younger sister.

Wheelon earned a doctorate in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and never abandoned his love of physics. His field of specialty was electromagnetic scintillation, which involves the transmission of electromagnetic waves through the atmosphere.

After leaving Hughes, he published two major research books on physics, making him among the very few business executives who would return to their technical roots after retirement.

“We would be on the corporate jet flying to a meeting, and he would be working out integral equations for sport,” Dorfman recalled.

Wheelon is survived by his second wife, Cicely; a daughter, Cynthia Wheelon; a grandson, Erik Wheelon; and a sister, Marcia. His first wife, Nancy, died in 1980 and another daughter, Elizabeth, died in 2006.