Does Your Country Have A Satellite?

Antonia P. / Physics 337 / April 17,1997
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[ Advancement and Competition ] [ Benefits ] [ Security ] [ New Use ] [ ORBCOMM'S Union ]
A satellite is an object launched into space to orbit the earth for scientific purposes. Since the creation of satellites, traditional ways of life have changed. Satellites have helped update and modernize societies. Although their are many different types of satellites, the most well known are communication and weather satellites. These satellites have served as a link for the world.

Advancement and Competition

The launching of satellites brought about a worldwide interest. Although in 1991 the United States, the Soviet Union, and China were still the only three countries with Reconnaissance (investigating) satellites, the world was catching up. In 1992 the vast majority of satellites in space had been built by the United States and Soviet Union but the European Space Agency (including the countries of Western Europe) was becoming actively engaged in space exploration through satellites (Charyk and Metzger 87). In 1994, India and Germany were planning to develop Reconnaissance satellites (Waters 313). Also in 1994, Japan was reported to be working on a satellite that would make both military and scientific observations (313). The same year France, Italy, and Spain were also collaborating on the development of their own Reconnaissance satellite network (313).



Satellites benefit less advanced and withdrawn societies by providing them with a communication link to the outside world. In addition to the United States, many countries have developed or purchased their own communication satellites, with numerous others planning to do likewise in the future (Waters 309). The Soviet Union began building its orbiting system in 1965, and now has three series of communication satellites orbiting the earthy. These satellites bring television and communication service to remote areas of the country, as well as to parts of Eastern Europe (309). Since the 1970's, India has been using a satellite called Site to transmit educational-television programming to thousands of rural villagers (309).



The use of military satellites helps strengthen a country's defense system. "Military satellites enable countries like the United States and the Soviet Union to judge the capabilities of their rivals in peacetime and to monitor the movements of their enemies in war" (Waters 312). Back in 1995 their was some commotion with a Chinese spy satellite that was falling back to earth. A spy satellite contains censors that can detect nuclear explosions and are used to monitor nuclear testing, information that can be hazardous in the wrong hands. It is believed that this is not China's only spy satellite, "In the past, Chinese officials have spoken of the FSW -1 series of satellites as intended strictly for natural resources monitoring. But western experts widely regard them as spy satellites" (Broad 19).


New Use

As the advancement of satellites progresses, so do their uses. Usually people who live in remote areas, without local T.V. stations, use dish antennas up to twenty feet in diameter to pick up satellite signals (Waters 308). Japan and Germany now have satellites that broadcast T.V. programming directly to consumers, who only need small dish satellites to pick up these signals (308).



For more than six years, ORBCOMM (group of companies) has been working to produce low cost wireless communications. "ORBCOMM has developed the satellites, the ground stations, specification for communicators and a switching system, as well as software necessary for them to unite together, in collaboration with companies in the United States, Israel, and Japan. The company has also entered into agreements with service providers and resellers who will soon be capable of providing messaging to almost seventy countries containing more than two-thirds of the world population" (ORBCOMM 3).


In the last few years satellites have become part of daily life. Whether using a computer, making a telephone call, or doing something simple as watching T.V. its all somehow linked to satellites. Within a few years the progress made is extraordinary. Satellites have become a communication link for the world. With the cost of satellites dropping its expected that in the future all countries will have access to a satellite.


Broad, William J. "Spy Satellite Built by China to Hit Earth." New York Times. 28 November 1995: A19.

Charyk and Metzger. "Artificial Satellites" Academic American Encyclopedia. 1992 ed. 86-87.

. . . . . "How Personal Satellite Communications Became a Reality" ORBCOMM. 12/17/96.

Waters, Tom. "Space Satellites" Popular Science. 1994, vol 1, 302-315.