Encyclopedia Astronautica
ATS-6



ats6.jpg
ATS-6
Credit: NASA
American communications technology satellite. One launch, 1974.05.30, ATS 6. In addition to its technology experiments, ATS-6 became the world's first educational satellite.

During its 5 year life, ATS-6 transmitted educational programming to India, the US and other countries. The vehicle also conducted air traffic control tests, was used to practice satellite-assisted search and rescue techniques, carried an experimental radiometer subsequently carried as a standard instrument aboard weather satellites, and pioneered direct broadcast TV. The satellite also played a major role in the Apollo/Soyuz docking in 1975 when it relayed signals to the Houston Control centre.

ATS-6 was boosted above geostationary orbit when thruster failures threatened to prevent further control of the spacecraft. The spacecraft had a 9 m diameter deployed antenna reflector. Pointing accuracy was 0.1 deg. Two half cylinder drum arrays on booms provided 645 W BOL electrical power. The satellite was 3 axis stabilized.

Payloads included the VHRR (Very High Resolution Radiometer) instrument, a millimeter wave propagation experiment, an L-band communications package, and C-band communications equipment

AKA: Applications Technology Satellite.
Gross mass: 930 kg (2,050 lb).
Height: 8.50 m (27.80 ft).
Span: 16.00 m (52.00 ft).
First Launch: 1974.05.30.
Number: 1 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Titan The Titan launch vehicle family was developed by the United States Air Force to meet its medium lift requirements in the 1960's. The designs finally put into production were derived from the Titan II ICBM. Titan outlived the competing NASA Saturn I launch vehicle and the Space Shuttle for military launches. It was finally replaced by the USAF's EELV boosters, the Atlas V and Delta IV. Although conceived as a low-cost, quick-reaction system, Titan was not successful as a commercial launch vehicle. Air Force requirements growth over the years drove its costs up - the Ariane using similar technology provided lower-cost access to space. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Titan American orbital launch vehicle. The Titan launch vehicle family was developed by the United States Air Force to meet its medium lift requirements in the 1960's. The designs finally put into production were derived from the Titan II ICBM. Titan outlived the competing NASA Saturn I launch vehicle and the Space Shuttle for military launches. It was finally replaced by the USAF's EELV boosters, the Atlas V and Delta IV. Although conceived as a low-cost, quick-reaction system, Titan was not successful as a commercial launch vehicle. Air Force requirements growth over the years drove its costs up - the Ariane using similar technology provided lower-cost access to space. More...
  • Titan 3C American orbital launch vehicle. Titan 3A with five segment solid motors. Man-rated design originally developed for Dynasoar spaceplane. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...
  • NSF American agency overseeing development of spacecraft. National Science Foundation, USA. More...
  • Fairchild American manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Fairchild, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • ATS The Applications Technology Satellite was a project with the purpose of improving other satellites, specifically to enhance the ability of existing and future satellites to provide weather, and communications data and air/sea navigation aids. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Launch Log, October 1998. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, ATS-6 Engineering Performance Report. Volume 2: Orbit and Attitude Controls, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, ATS-6 Engineering Performance Report. Volume 6: Scientific Experiments, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Twenty and thirty GHz millimeter wave experiments with the ATS-6 satellite, Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC40 Titan launch complex. Constructed as part of the Titan Integrate-Transfer-Launch (ITL) facility at the north end of Cape Canaveral in the early 1960s. Supported a wide variety of military space missions involving Titan IIIC, Titan 34D and Titan IV vehicles. More...

ATS-6 Chronology


1974 May 30 - . 13:00 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC40. LV Family: Titan. Launch Vehicle: Titan 3C. LV Configuration: Titan IIIC 23C-9 (3C-27).
  • ATS 6 - . Payload: ATS F. Mass: 930 kg (2,050 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA Greenbelt. Program: ATS. Class: Technology. Type: Communications technology satellite. Spacecraft: ATS-6. Completed Operations Date: 1979-08-02 . USAF Sat Cat: 7318 . COSPAR: 1974-039A. Apogee: 35,444 km (22,023 mi). Perigee: 35,184 km (21,862 mi). Inclination: 13.1000 deg. Period: 1,412.00 min. Application Technology Satellite; experimental communications satellite. The purpose of the ATS-6 flight experiment was to demonstrate north-south stationkeeping of a geosynchronous satellite using two cesium ion engine systems. Thruster development tests included a life test of 2614 hours and 471 cycles. Thruster input power was 0.15 kW, which resulted in a thrust of 4.5 mN at a specific impulse of 2500 s. One of the ion engines operated for about one hour and the other for 92 hours. Both of the engines failed to provide thrust on restart due to discharge chamber cesium flooding. The feed system flooding problem caused overloading of the discharge and high voltage power supplies. This failure mechanism was verified through a series of ground tests. However engine operation demonstrated an absence of EMI related to spacecraft systems, verified predictions of spacecraft potential with engines operating, and demonstrated compatibility with the spacecraft's star tracker. It was found that the ion engines or just the neutralizer could discharge large negative spacecraft potentials at all times. Positioned in geosynchronous orbit over the Americas at 94 deg W in 1974-1975; over the Indian Ocean 35 deg E in 1975-1976; over the Americas at 140 deg W in 1976-1979. As of 2 September 2001 located at 172.56 deg W drifting at 6.144 deg E per day. As of 2007 Mar 8 located at 29.12W drifting at 6.125E degrees per day.

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