Fellow SeeSaters: I've been reading around lately in the satellite communications world and thought you'd all like to know the following (the bulk of which is data from the August/September 1997 Launchspace magazine): When the Iridium constellation is complete, there will be 72 LEO satellites in orbit at 780km alt, inclination 86 deg. (6 orbital planes of 11 satellites each, and 1 spare per orbit). There are at least SEVEN more communications constellations planned by 2002: ORBCOMM: 24 satellites with circular orbits at 770km alt, inclination 45 deg (3 orbit planes of 8 satellites each). Planned operational by 1997 (they better hurry). ICO: 24 satellites with circular orbits at 10300km alt, inclined 45 deg (2 orbit planes, 10 satellites per orbit and 2 spares per orbit.) Planned operational by 2000. GLOBALSTAR: 56 satellites with circular orbits, altitude 1400km, inclination 52 deg. (8 orbit planes, 6 satellites per plane, and 1 spare per plane.) ELLIPSO (2 constellations): Ellipso-Borealis: 10 satellites in elliptical orbits of apogee 7500km, perigee 670km, inclination 116 degrees. (2 orbit planes, 4 satellites per plane, 1 spare per plane.) Planned operational by 2000. Ellipso-Concordia: 7 satellites on a circular, equitorial orbit at 8060km altitude. (6 satellites in one plane with one spare, presumably equally spaced.) Planned operational by 2000. ECCO: 12 satellites on a circular, equitorial orbit at 2000km alt. (11 satellites with one spare, equally spaced.) Planned operational by 2000. ODYSSEY: 18 satellites with circular orbits inclined 50 deg, at 10300km alt. (3 orbital planes, 4 satellites per plane, 2 spares per plane.) Planned operational by 2001. TELEDESIC: 288+ satellites with circular orbits at 1350km alt, inclination near 90 degrees. (12 orbit planes with 24 satellites per plane and more than one spare per plane.) Planned operational 2002. So there are 439+ new communications satellites by 2002 in low earth orbit. The communications industry has decided that 1500km and lower is "low earth orbit" and 5000km to 15000km is "mid earth orbit". The industry has further decided on some new terms I hope I don't see confused with useful terms: "Little LEO" means a satellite constellation that provides delayed communications such as paging and messaging; "Big LEO" is a satellite constellation which provides real-time voice and data communitation; and "Broadband LEO" is a saltellite constellation real-time data communications for computer networks, as well as voice. If all planned or proposed LEO communications satellite constellations are actually launched we will see around 1700 new communications satellites in LEO and MEO by 2010! If you hurry, you can probably already buy an Iridium handset, and when the constellation goes operational, pay only $3.00 US per minute to talk on the phone! -- Bill Welker ** wwelker@a.Xcrl.com ** Anti-Spam: Remove the X to reply. WATCH FOR THE PAUL REVERE VIRUS! Symptom: It warns you of impending hard disk attack -- once if by LAN, twice if by C. -----------------------------------------------------------------------