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Mission typeCommunication
OperatorSpace Communications Corporation
COSPAR ID1989-041A[1]
SATCAT no.20040
Spacecraft properties
BusSSL 1300
ManufacturerFord Aerospace
Launch mass2,489.2 kg (5,488 lb)
DimensionsStowed:2.41 m × 2.58 m × 2.20 m (7 ft 11 in × 8 ft 6 in × 7 ft 3 in)
Solar arrays extended:20.3 m (67 ft)
Power3,984 W
Start of mission
Launch date22:37:18, June 5, 1989 (UTC) (1989-06-05T22:37:18Z)[2]
Launch siteKourou ELA-2
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeInclined geosynchronous
Semi-major axis42311 km
Perigee altitude35,926.3 km
Apogee altitude35,953.9 km
Period1,443.6 minutes
Epoch2016-08-18 00:00:00UTC[3]
Band19 Ku band and 10 Ka band

Superbird-A, also identified as Superbird-1 before launch, was a geostationary communications satellite designed and manufactured by Ford Aerospace (now SSL MDA) on the SSL 1300 platform. It was originally ordered by Space Communications Corporation (SCC), which later merged into the SKY Perfect JSAT Group.[4] It had a mixed Ku band, Ka band and X band payload and operated on the 158°E longitude.[5][1]

It was ordered in 1985 along Superbird-B, Superbird-A1 and Superbird-B1 on the very first order of the SSL 1300 platform.[6][7][8][5] It was also the first satellite of SCC and the second commercial satellite of Japan after JCSAT-1.[5] It was used for video distribution, news gathering, remote publishing and high definition TV service to the main islands of Japan and Okinawa.[1]

Satellite description[edit]

The spacecraft was the first satellite designed and manufactured by Ford Aerospace on the SSL 1300 satellite bus. It was based on the design of the Intelsat V series and offered a three-axis stabilized platform.[6][7][8][5]

It had a launch mass of 2,489.2 kg (5,488 lb) and a 10-year design life.[1] When stowed for launch, its dimensions were 2.41 m × 2.58 m × 2.20 m (7 ft 11 in × 8 ft 6 in × 7 ft 3 in). With its solar panels fully extended it spanned 20.3 m (67 ft). Its power system generated approximately 3,984 W of power due to two wings with three solar panels each.[5][1] It also a NiH2 battery to survive the solar eclipses. It would serve as the main satellite on the 158°E longitude position of the Superbird.[5][1]

Its propulsion system included an R-4D-11 LAE with a thrust of 490 N (110 lbf).[5] It included enough propellant for orbit circularization and 10 years of operation.[5]

Its payload is composed of 19 Ku band plus 10 Ka band transponders.[1]


Space Communications Corporation (SCC) was founded in 1985, the same year as the original companies that later formed JSAT.[9] On 1986 SCC ordered four spacecrafts from Space Systems/Loral, Superbird-1, Superbird-2, Superbird-A1 and Superbird-B1.[7]

On June 5, 1989 at 22:37:18 UTC Superbird-1, the second private communications satellite of Japan, was launched aboard an Ariane 44L along DFS Kopernikus-1.[5] It was injected into a 185 km x 35,981 km geosynchronous transfer orbit, from which it climbed through three liquid apogee engine firings.[1] Once in its 158°East longitude position, it was rechristened as Superbird-A.[5][7][9]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Superbird 1". NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive. 27 April 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-04.
  2. ^ "Superbird 1". NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive. 27 April 2016. Retrieved 2016-08-04.
  3. ^ "SUPERBIRD A". Retrieved 2016-08-12.
  4. ^ "Superbird-1, -2". SSL. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Krebs, Gunter Dirk (2016-08-18). "Superbird A, A1, B, B1". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 2016-04-17.
  6. ^ a b "Industry Pioneer Marks Milestone, Continues to Lead in Providing High-Power Commercial Satellites, Helping Operators Meet Business Objectives". SSL. July 17, 2007. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  7. ^ a b c d "Awards & Launch History - 1300 Bus Satellites". SSL. Retrieved 2016-07-30.
  8. ^ a b "Celebrating Fifty Years of Satellite Innovation". SSL. Retrieved 2016-08-18.
  9. ^ a b "History". SKY Perfect JSAT Holdings Inc. Retrieved 2016-07-28.