Encyclopedia Astronautica
Thuraya


Thuraya was founded in the UAE in 1997 by a consortium of leading national telecommunications operators and international investment houses. The concept was to offer cost-effective satellite-based mobile telephone services to Europe, the Middle East, North and Central Africa, and Central and South Asia. The new aspect was the use of dynamic dual mode handsets.

These would use local cellular phone networks where available, and direct links to the Thuraya satellites where not. The lightweight handsets provided satellite, cellular (GSM) service, and location determination system (GPS). The dynamic handset offered voice, data, fax and short messaging services. The original satellite series was a turnkey project was built by US satellite manufacturer Boeing Satellite Systems (formerly Hughes).

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Associated Countries
Associated Spacecraft
  • HS 702 American communications satellite bus. Operational, first launched 1999.12.22. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Zenit-3SL Ukrainian orbital launch vehicle. From the beginning of the program a Zenit-3 version was proposed for geosynchronous launches using the N1/Proton Block D third stage. This had the potential of replacing the Proton in the role of geosynchronous launcher. It was considered for launch from Australia / Cape York in the 1980's. Finally a joint US-Norwegian-Ukraininan-Russian consortium was formed to launch the three stage commercial Zenit from the Odyssey floating launch platform in the Pacific Ocean. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
Associated Launch Sites
  • Kiritimati Kiritimati (Christmas Island) in the Pacific Ocean was originally selected by Von Braun in his Collier magazine series of the early 1950's as an ideal equatorial launch site. A half century later, Boeing Sea Launch used an offshore location for orbital launches. The launch platform was a seagoing converted Norwegian offshore oil rig. Between missions it was berthed in Long Beach, California. It was towed to a location off Kiritimati for launches of the Ukrainian Zenit-3 launch vehicle. More...

Thuraya Chronology


2000 October 21 - . Launch Site: Kiritimati. Launch Pad: 0.0 N x 154.0 W. Launch Platform: ODYSSEY. LV Family: Zenit. Launch Vehicle: Zenit-3SL.
  • Thuraya 1 - . Payload: Thuraya 1A. Mass: 5,108 kg (11,261 lb). Nation: UAE. Agency: Thuraya. Manufacturer: El Segundo. Program: Thuraya. Class: Communications. Type: Civilian communications satellite. Spacecraft: HS 702. USAF Sat Cat: 26578 . COSPAR: 2000-066A. Apogee: 35,808 km (22,250 mi). Perigee: 35,764 km (22,222 mi). Inclination: 5.2000 deg. Period: 1,436.10 min. Mobile Communications satellite. Launch delayed from September 18 and October 19. Stationed at 44 deg E. The first Boeing GEM satellite, Thuraya 1, was built by Boeing/El Segundo (formerly Hughes). It was based on the HS-702 design but featured a large 12-m diameter truss antenna for L-band mobile telephone service. Launch mass of Thuraya was 5108 kg; dry mass probably around 3000 kg. The satellite was to be delivered after on orbit testing to Etisalat, the Emirates Telecom Corp of Abu Dhabi, and its Thuraya Satellite subsidiary. Thuraya was launched from the Odyssey platform in the Pacific Ocean positioned on the equator at 154 deg W. The two-stage Yuzhnoe Zenit core delivered Thuraya and its Energiya Blok DM-SL upper stage to a -2212 x 182 km suborbital trajectory. The first DM-SL burn placed the stack in a 180 x 200 km x 6.3 deg parking orbit at 0604 GMT; a second burn at 0733 GMTput Thuraya in a 210 x 35891 km x 6.3 deg geostationary transfer orbit. A later depletion burn lowered the DM-SL stage perigee to 180 km, as burns by Thuraya's liquid engine raised it towards geosynchronous orbit. Positioned in geosynchronous orbit at 44 deg E in 2000. As of 5 September 2001 located at 44.22 deg E drifting at 0.003 deg E per day. As of 2007 Mar 11 located at 98.57E drifting at 0.007W degrees per day.

2003 June 10 - . Launch Site: Kiritimati. Launch Pad: 0.0 N x 154.0 W. Launch Platform: ODYSSEY. LV Family: Zenit. Launch Vehicle: Zenit-3SL.
  • Thuraya 2 - . Mass: 5,177 kg (11,413 lb). Nation: UAE. Agency: Thuraya. Manufacturer: El Segundo. Program: Thuraya. Class: Communications. Type: Civilian communications satellite. Spacecraft: HS 702. USAF Sat Cat: 27825 . COSPAR: 2003-026A. Apogee: 35,806 km (22,248 mi). Perigee: 35,766 km (22,223 mi). Inclination: 5.0000 deg. Period: 1,436.10 min. Summary: The Boeing 'GEM' spacecraft was a modified BSS-702 with a 12 m wide antenna for L-band mobile communications. Launch delayed from January 20, then April 4. As of 2007 Mar 9 located at 43.94E drifting at 0.004E degrees per day..

2008 January 15 - . 11:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Sea-launched. Launch Pad: KIR. Launch Platform: ODYSSEY. LV Family: Zenit. Launch Vehicle: Zenit-3SL. LV Configuration: Zenit-3SL s/n SL36.
  • Thuraya 3 - . Mass: 5,173 kg (11,404 lb). Nation: UAE. Agency: Thuraya. Manufacturer: Boeing. Program: Thuraya. Class: Communications. Type: Civilian communications satellite. Spacecraft: HS 702. USAF Sat Cat: 32404 . COSPAR: 2008-001A. Apogee: 35,820 km (22,250 mi). Perigee: 35,756 km (22,217 mi). Inclination: 6.2000 deg. Period: 1,436.20 min. Launch vehicle return-to-flight after on-pad explosion one year earlier damaged launch platform. The satellite was positioned at 98.5 degrees East Longitude to provide L-band and C-band mobile voice, broadband, maritime, rural telephony, and fleet management to Thuraya subscribers. Design lifetime of 12 years.

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