A Sea Launch Zenit 3SL booster is scheduled to launch the first Thuraya mobile communications satellite into orbit from its mobile Odyssey launch pad in the equatorial Pacific Ocean on 19 October. Thuraya is the first spacecraft built by Boeing Satellite Systems, formerly Hughes Space and Communications, and will be operated by the Thuraya Satellite Telecommunications Company of the United Arab Emirates.

A Boeing 702 spacecraft will provide a turnkey satellite system offering mobile telephony services to up to 1.8 billion people in 100 countries. It will be a "one-stop shop for a satellite-based mobile phone system", said Tig Krekal, president of Boeing Satellite Systems. The company is providing the spacecraft, the ground segment and users handsets.

The satellite uses on-board digital processing to create 200 spot beams that can be redirected in orbit, allowing it to handle up to 13,750 simultaneous calls. Its enhanced phased-array antenna design, in combination with a digital signal processor, is five times more capable than any processor on former Hughes satellites.

Thuraya will be at 44°E ingeostationary orbit, transmitting and receiving calls through a single 12.25m (40ft) aperture reflector. Power will be from two gallium arsenide solar cell arrays, 34.5m wide.

Source: Flight International