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HGS-1 Arrives in Earth Orbit
HGS-1 Arrives in Earth Orbit
17 Jun 1998
(Source: HUGHES GLOBAL SERVICES, INC.)

Editor's Note: This is a series of corporate news releases related the efforts to recover a commercial satellite. They are presented with the most recent first.

HUGHES GLOBAL SERVICES, INC.
HUGHES SPACE AND COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY

HGS-1 ARRIVES IN EARTH ORBIT, READY FOR CUSTOMERS
LOS ANGELES, June 17, 1998 -- The HGS-1 communications satellite arrived in geosynchronous orbit over the Pacific Ocean today, successfully completing an historic mission that sent it around the moon twice to reposition it into a useful orbit.

HGS-1 was launched last Christmas Day. Because of a malfunctioning launch vehicle, it was left in an unusable, highly elliptical orbit. Insurers declared it a total loss for its original purposes, which was for communications and television services in Asia. Hughes Global Services, Inc., (HGS) obtained title in April to the fully functional satellite, an HS 601HP model built by Hughes Space and Communications Company (HSC).

Hughes orbital engineers devised a novel mission to salvage the satellite, using lunar gravity to improve the resulting orbit once the satellite returned to Earth. That flyby, in mid-May, was the first commercial mission to the moon. Encouraged by the precision of that mission, Hughes performed a second lunar rendezvous this month to further improve the orbit.

The second mission concluded today. At 11:29 a.m. PDT, Hughes satellite controllers fired the on-board motor for 12 minutes, which slowed the spacecraft enough to enter a circular orbit 22,300 miles (36,000 km) above the equator. HGS-1 will be "parked" in a dormant state over the Pacific until Hughes finds customers for it.

When HGS obtained title to the satellite, it agreed to try to find revenue-producing uses for the satellite and to share profits with the insurers. "This is a real opportunity for someone to kick-start or augment their business with an in-orbit satellite, at less cost and time than it would take to contract and build their own satellite," said Ronald V. Swanson, HGS president. Even though HGS' primary business is packaging satellite communications services for governmental entities, it is actively seeking interest in the entire satellite as well.

HGS-1 made its first swing around the moon May 13. On May 16, as the satellite approached Earth, controllers slowed it down by firing the on-board rocket motor. This put the satellite into a 15-day orbit around Earth with an apogee -- the farthest distance from Earth -- of about 303,000 miles (488,000 km). The moon is about 250,000 miles away (402,000 km).

On June 1, controllers nudged the satellite into position for a second lunar flyby. It passed the moon again on June 6, at a distance of nearly 21,300 miles (34,300 km) from the surface, which is about 52 times farther than the initial lunar encounter of 3,883 miles (6,200 km). A small firing of the rocket motor June 11 reoriented the satellite for its final orbit around Earth.

Last Sunday at 9:15 a.m. PDT, controllers fired the motor for 46 minutes, and again for two minutes at 10:50 a.m. These burns slowed HGS-1 into a 46-hour orbit ranging in altitude from 22,300 miles (36,000 km) to 51,000 miles (82,000 km). Tuesday, controllers performed a 28-minute burn at 7:29 a.m. PDT, putting it into a nearly circular 28-hour orbit. Today's burn captured it in a 24-hour, geosynchronous orbit, so that it will orbit Earth at the same speed that the planet rotates. It will stay at roughly the same spot above Earth, but will drift a few degrees north and south of the equator every day.

"The lunar recovery mission team did an outstanding job. Everything has gone just as predicted," Swanson said. "It really validates the viability of this technique for future missions."


HUGHES GLOBAL SERVICES, INC.

HGS-1 EN ROUTE TO 2ND LUNAR ENCOUNTER
EL SEGUNDO, Calif., June 5, 1998 -- The HGS-1 satellite is on its way toward a second rendezvous with the moon on Saturday, following thruster firings early this week.

HGS-1 is the satellite that was launched last Christmas Day and, because of a malfunctioning launch vehicle, was left in an unusable, highly elliptical orbit. Hughes Global Services, Inc., (HGS) has obtained title to the fully functional satellite, an HS 601HP model built by Hughes Space and Communications Company. Hughes made spaceflight history last month by sending HGS-1 around the moon, using lunar gravity to improve the resulting orbit once the satellite returned to Earth. It was the first commercial mission to the moon. Hughes is sending the satellite around the moon again this month to further improve the orbit. No further lunar trips are planned.

At 7:40 p.m. PDT Monday, small thrusters on the satellite were fired for half an hour, giving the satellite a small change in velocity. The gentle boost went perfectly, and was sufficient to send HGS-1 on a 15-day loop around Earth and out to the moon.

HGS-1 is expected to pass near the moon again around 9:30 a.m. PDT Saturday. Lunar gravity will give the satellite's trajectory, or flight path, another twist and send it back to Earth. On June 11, Hughes controllers will reposition the satellite for its final orbit. A retro burn June 14 will slow it down and allow it to enter near-Earth orbit. A series of maneuvers over the next few days will settle it into circular geosynchronous orbit, 22,300 miles (36,000 km) above the equator. HGS-1's final position will be determined after Hughes finds customers for its services.

When HGS obtained title to the satellite, it agreed to try to find revenue-producing uses for the satellite and to share profits with the insurers. A consortium of 27 insurers had owned the satellite after the original mission was declared a total loss. HGS' primary business is packaging satellite communications services for governmental entities, although it is actively seeking commercial interest in the entire satellite as well.

"With the orbital improvements obtained by this second lunar rendezvous, I expect a great deal of interest in this brand-new, high-power satellite," said Mark Schwene, HGS vice president. "I'm looking forward to talking to potential customers for the satellite."

HGS-1 made its first swing around the moon May 13. It was a first-of-its-kind mission, and the flyby went almost exactly as predicted by Hughes orbital analysts. On May 16, as the satellite approached Earth, Hughes mission controllers slowed it down by firing the on-board rocket motor, which exerts a thrust of 110 pounds. This put the satellite into a looping 15-day orbit around Earth with an apogee -- the farthest distance from the Earth -- of about 303,000 miles (488,000 km). The moon is about 250,000 miles away (402,000 km).

The maneuver Monday used the satellite's small thrusters, which exert only 5 pounds of force, to nudge the satellite into position for its second lunar flyby. On Saturday the spacecraft will pass the moon's surface from a distance of nearly 21,300 miles (34,300 km), which is about 5.5 times farther than the initial lunar encounter. An additional firing of the rocket motor is planned for the morning of June 11, to further position the satellite for its final orbit. Rocket motor burns on June 14, 16 and 17 are planned to settle HGS-1 into geosynchronous orbit over the Pacific Ocean, where it will be "parked" until customers and a final orbital location are determined.

Hughes Global Services is a subsidiary of Hughes Space and Communications Company (HSC), the world's leading manufacturer of geostationary commercial communications satellites. Scientists and engineers from both HGS and HSC are taking part in the mission. Both companies are units of Hughes Electronics Corporation. PanAmSat Corporation, of which Hughes Electronics is the majority owner, has been providing critical command and tracking support for the mission through its ground station in Fillmore, Calif.

The earnings of Hughes Electronics are used to calculate the earnings per share attributable to GMH (NYSE symbol) common stock.


HUGHES TO SEND HGS-1 SATELLITE ON 2ND LUNAR FLYBY
LOS ANGELES, May 18, 1998 -- Hughes Global Services, Inc., (HGS), which successfully sent a stranded communications satellite around the moon last week in an unprecedented salvage mission, is mounting a second lunar flyby to further improve the orbit.

The satellite, known as HGS-1, passed behind the moon at noon PDT May 13 and returned to Earth, making its closest approach about 8 p.m. PDT Saturday. Instead of doing the planned retro burn at that time, Hughes' mission controllers fired the satellite's motor for a shorter period of time, allowing the satellite to glide into a looping 15-day orbit. An additional small burn on June 1 will send the satellite toward its second lunar encounter.

"While the first pass by the moon was completely successful and accomplished all of our objectives, we always said we were going for the best obtainable orbit," said HGS President Ronald V. Swanson. "A second lunar flyby will make the orbit even better and will increase the satellite's attractiveness to potential customers. We do not plan any additional lunar maneuvers since additional passes will result in diminishing improvements."

When the satellite was sent into space last Christmas, the launch vehicle malfunctioned and left the spacecraft in an unusable, highly elliptical orbit. Most communications satellites operate from a circular orbit around the equator.

By sending the satellite around the moon, Hughes used lunar gravity to improve the resulting orbit once the satellite returned to Earth.

When HGS obtained title to the satellite last month, it agreed to try to find revenue-producing uses for the satellite and to share profits with the insurers. A consortium of 27 insurers had owned the satellite after the original mission was declared a total loss. HGS' primary business is packaging satellite communications services for governmental entities, although it is actively seeking commercial interest in the entire satellite as well.

"Our orbital analysts have done a fantastic job of planning this mission and predicting the satellite's trajectory thus far," Swanson said. "So we challenged them to evaluate whether we could improve the orbit further.

"They said one more loop around the moon would improve the orbit, with little impact on the satellite's operational life -- so we're going for it," Swanson said.

The new mission plan involves the same number of post-lunar motor firings, four. Only the times and durations have changed. The first burn successfully occurred Saturday night, as scheduled. That burn reduced the satellite's speed by roughly one-half of what was originally planned. Saturday night's burn placed HGS-1 into a 15-day orbit with an apogee -- the farthest distance from the Earth -- of about 293,000 miles (488,000 km).

A second, smaller burn, scheduled for June 1, will nudge the satellite into position for its second lunar encounter on June 6. The spacecraft will pass the moon's surface from a distance of 27,000 miles (43,000 km), which is about seven times farther than the initial lunar encounter on May 13. An additional motor firing is planned for June 12, to further position the satellite for its final orbit. The final burn, currently scheduled for June 13, will place the HGS-1 spacecraft into geosynchronous orbit.

Hughes Global Services is a subsidiary of Hughes Space and Communications Company (HSC), the world's leading manufacturer of geostationary commercial communications satellites. Scientists and engineers from both HGS and HSC are taking part in the mission. Both companies are units of Hughes Electronics Corporation. PanAmSat Corporation, of which Hughes Electronics is the majority owner, has been providing critical command and tracking support for the mission through its ground station in Fillmore, Calif.

The earnings of Hughes Electronics are used to calculate the earnings per share attributable to GMH (NYSE symbol) common stock.


HUGHES GLOBAL SERVICES, INC.

HUGHES SATELLITE ORBITS MOON, HEADS BACK TO EARTH
LOS ANGELES, May 13, 1998 -- The HGS-1 spacecraft became the first commercial communications satellite to orbit the moon, passing behind it at noon PDT today to grab a boost from lunar gravity and hurtle back toward Earth.

Engineers at the Hughes Mission Control Center in El Segundo, Calif., will begin braking maneuvers Saturday to guide the arriving spacecraft into orbit around the equator.

HGS-1 is a high-power satellite built by Hughes Space and Communications Company of Los Angeles, and owned by its subsidiary, Hughes Global Services, Inc. (HGS). It was designed to provide television and other telecommunications services for Asia and neighboring regions.

During launch last Christmas Day, however, the rocket that was carrying it malfunctioned, leaving the satellite in an unusable, highly inclined, elliptical orbit. The original owner of the spacecraft filed an insurance claim, and the insurers declared the mission a total loss for its original purposes.

Hughes scientists and engineers weren't ready to give up on the fully functional satellite, however. They devised a salvage mission using the moon's gravity to reposition the satellite into a usable circular orbit 22,300 miles above the equator, called geosynchronous orbit. It is the first known lunar mission involving a communications satellite and the first lunar mission financed by a non-governmental entity. If Hughes can put the HS 601HP model satellite into a useful revenue-generating orbit, it has agreed to share profits with the insurers.

HGS-1 began its lunar encounter at 11:52 a.m. PDT today. Occultation -- the period during which it was behind the moon and out of radio contact with ground controllers -- lasted until 12:20 p.m. The satellite came within 3,883 miles of the moon's surface -- called perilune -- at 12:55 p.m. It's now on a 3-day return trip to Earth.

Over the next three days, Hughes controllers will prepare the satellite for a retro burn that will slow HGS-1 as it approaches geosynchronous orbit. The spacecraft is expected to execute the maneuvers around 8 p.m. PDT Saturday. Controllers are using satellite ground stations, optical telescopes and radar facilities around the world to track the spacecraft.

Hughes began the mission April 10, firing the satellite's onboard rocket motor several times to raise its altitude. The 12th firing was May 7, giving HGS-1 its final kick toward the moon.

Hughes Space and Communications, a unit of Hughes Electronics Corporation, has been building communications and scientific spacecraft and instruments for more than 35 years. It is the world leader in manufacturing commercial geostationary communications satellites. Hughes Global Services packages commercial satellite services for government and military customers. HGS also works with other Hughes Electronics companies to provide end-to-end solutions for underserved commercial markets. PanAmSat Corporation, of which Hughes Electronics is the majority owner, has been providing critical command and tracking support for the mission through its teleport in Fillmore, Calif. The earnings of Hughes Electronics are used to calculate the earnings per share attributable to GMH (NYSE symbol) common stock.


HUGHES GLOBAL SERVICES, INC.
HUGHES SPACE AND COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY

HUGHES SATELLITE ON ITS WAY TO MOON
LOS ANGELES, May 8, 1998 -- The HGS-1 satellite fired its motor at 5:42 p.m. PDT yesterday, heading off on its 9-day journey around the moon and back to Earth orbit.

This is the first known lunar mission involving a communications satellite and the first mission financed by a non-governmental entity.

Controllers in the Hughes Mission Control Center in El Segundo, Calif., have confirmed that the spacecraft is on its way, by using signals received at ground stations and images seen by optical telescopes around the globe. The satellite reached a maximum speed of 24,000 mph after the firing to send it on its nearly 6-day outbound trip. On May 13, it will pass behind the moon, coming as close as 5,000 miles above the surface. With an assist from lunar gravity, it will swing around the moon, change directions and head off on its 3-day return trip to Earth. On May 16, satellite controllers will begin braking maneuvers to help the satellite settle into an orbit around the equator.

HGS-1 is an HS 601HP model satellite built by Hughes Space and Communications Company of Los Angeles. It was designed to provide television and other telecommunications services for Asia and neighboring regions. During its launch last Christmas Day, however, the rocket that was carrying it malfunctioned, leaving the satellite in an unusable, highly inclined, elliptical orbit. The satellite itself is fully functional, with 44 high-power transponders in C- and Ku-band.

After the launch failure the original owner of the spacecraft filed an insurance claim. The insurers declared the spacecraft a total loss for its original purposes.

Scientists and engineers from Hughes Space and Comm and its subsidiary, Hughes Global Services, Inc., (HGS), devised a salvage mission using the moon to move the satellite into a usable circular orbit. HGS has obtained the title to the spacecraft, with the agreement to share profits with the insurers if the satellite can be put to use.

During the last several weeks, Hughes controllers have fired the satellite's onboard rocket motor several times to raise its altitude. Thursday's was the 12th firing, and it burned for almost 2 minutes to give HGS-1 its final kick toward the moon. Controllers may use short burns during the 9-day cruise to make minor adjustments in the flight path. The commands for the final firing were sent to the spacecraft about 2 a.m. PDT Thursday, and HGS-1 executed the maneuver while out of view from the ground stations. Controllers were able to confirm the motor firing within about half an hour, and within another hour verified that HGS-1 was on the correct trajectory.

Hughes Space and Comm, a unit of Hughes Electronics Corporation, has been building communications and scientific spacecraft and instruments for more than 35 years. It is the world leader in manufacturing commercial geostationary communications satellites. Hughes Global Services packages commercial satellite services for government and military customers. HGS also works with other Hughes Electronics companies to provide end-to-end solutions for underserved commercial markets. The earnings of Hughes Electronics are used to calculate the earnings per share attributable to GMH (NYSE symbol) common stock.


HUGHES GLOBAL SERVICES, INC.
HUGHES SPACE AND COMMUNICATIONS COMPANY
Los Angeles, CA 90009

HUGHES GOES TO MOON TO SALVAGE SATELLITE
First Commercial Lunar Mission

LOS ANGELES, April 29, 1998 -- Hughes engineers are completing a first-of-its-kind experimental mission that will swing a communications satellite around the moon in an attempt to reposition it to provide service on Earth.

The spacecraft, originally called AsiaSat 3, has been stranded in a lower than planned orbit since its failed launch on Christmas Day of last year. During the last several weeks, Hughes controllers have fired the satellite's onboard rocket motor -- called the liquid apogee motor -- several times to raise it out of its elliptical orbit of 350 kilometers by 36,000 kilometers (217 miles by 22,300 miles). The final firing, on May 7, will send it on a 9-day round trip to the moon. If successful, the satellite is expected back into a circular orbit over the equator by the end of May. The satellite's orbital slot and new name are to be determined. At present, it is informally referred to as HGS-1.

The untried maneuver involves sending the spacecraft into a three-dimensional figure-8 orbit around the moon, using lunar gravity to fling the satellite back into a usable Earth orbit. The salvage mission was devised by orbital analysts at Hughes Space and Communications Company, which built the HS 601HP model spacecraft. Analytical Graphics, Inc., is supporting Hughes with the mission. This is the first known commercial use of the moon and the first lunar mission attempted by a non-governmental entity.

The spacecraft was originally intended for geostationary orbit (36,000 kilometers/23,000 miles) over Asia, but the fourth stage of its Russian Proton booster rocket shut down prematurely, stranding the satellite in a highly inclined elliptical orbit.

After the launch failure the original owner of the spacecraft, Asia Satellite Telecommunications Co. Ltd. of Hong Kong, filed an insurance claim. The insurers declared the spacecraft a total loss for its original purposes. Hughes Global Services, Inc., (HGS) reached an agreement this month with the insurers to attempt the high-risk salvage mission, and HGS has obtained the title to the spacecraft.

HGS is considering various revenue-generating uses for the satellite. Applications might include offering the U.S. government assured surge communications and augmentation in areas of insufficient capacity. Beyond this, the satellite may offer a means to affordably establish a satellite communications infrastructure. HGS was formed 10 months ago as a subsidiary of Hughes Space and Communications. It provides domestic and international government and public sector agencies at all levels with "one-stop shopping" access to commercially available satellite communications.

"While NASA has used gravity assists to send spacecraft off on interplanetary missions, no one has ever tried it to bring a communications satellite back into Earth orbit," said Ronald V. Swanson, HGS president. He noted that a similar "free return trajectory" was employed nearly 30 years ago, during the early Apollo missions.

Hughes engineers expect the lunar fly-by will use most of the approximately 3700 pounds of propellant onboard the satellite. "Because this has never been done before, we don't know exactly how much propellant we'll use. We've made our best estimates, based on 35 years of building and operating satellites, as well as on computer models, but there are no guarantees," Swanson said. "We're going for the best obtainable orbit."

Hughes has funded the salvage mission itself. If HGS-1 can be put into service, Hughes will share profits with the insurance underwriters. "It's a very powerful, capable satellite," Swanson said, "and the potential applications are great if we can get it into a usable orbit. Keep in mind, however, that nothing like this has ever been done and it is still an experiment."

The satellite is a fully functional HS 601HP model capable of covering more than a quarter of the Earth at any one time. It had been kept in a stowed and dormant state until its fate was decided. With 44 high-power active transponders -- 28 in C-band and 16 in Ku-band -- it was built to provide television distribution and telecommunications services throughout Asia, India, the Middle East, Australasia, and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The wide coverage area, plus fixed and steerable spot beams, would make it a valuable and flexible asset, Swanson said.

This isn't the first time Hughes technology has gone to the moon. An early program was the Surveyor lunar lander series for NASA. The first of seven of these Hughes-built spacecraft was launched in 1966, leading the way for American astronauts to land on the moon. Hughes Space and Communications, a unit of Hughes Electronics Corporation, is the world leader in manufacturing commercial geostationary communications satellites. Hughes has been building communications and scientific spacecraft and instruments for more than 3-1/2 decades. Its first satellite, Syncom, launched in 1963, was the first satellite to be placed in synchronous orbit.

HGS' focus is packaging commercial satellite services on a customized basis for government and military customers. To accomplish this, HGS has agreements with providers of bandwidth, terminal equipment, and satellite mobile telephone services. HGS also works with other Hughes Electronics companies to provide end-to-end solutions for underserved commercial markets. The earnings of Hughes Electronics are used to calculate the earnings per share attributable to GMH (NYSE symbol) common stock.

Other organizations that are assisting HGS with the mission are the U.S. and Air Force Space Commands, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and EMBRATEL of Brazil.

Real-time plotting of the mission is available at the websites of Hughes Space and Communications and Hughes Global Services. Betacam video is available on request to television news outlets. This is strictly a communications satellite, so there are no cameras onboard.

LUNAR FLY-BY -- Hughes Global Services, Inc., will make the first commercial use of the moon when it salvages a stranded satellite in May. The satellite was left in an unusable Earth orbit last Christmas Day, when the rocket carrying it shut down prematurely. The satellite was to have provided communications services for Asia and adjoining regions. Hughes Global Services obtained the title to the satellite, and is executing a series of maneuvers that will eventually send it around the moon. Using lunar gravity to assist in changing the orbital characteristics, the satellite will fly back toward Earth and is expected to be placed in geosynchronous orbit. During the salvage mission, the satellite will be spinning with its main antennas extended for stability. Hughes Space and Communications Company built the satellite, an HS 601HP model. Hughes Global Services and Hughes Space and Communications are units of Hughes Electronics Corporation.

IDEA OF USING MOON FOR SATELLITE SALVAGE SUGGESTED TO HUGHES BY TWO FORMER JPLers.

The idea of using the Moon as a tool to (possibly) salvage Hughes' Asiasat-3 satellite was first suggested to Hughes by former JPL mission engineer Rex Ridenoure on January 16th, following a phone call to Ridenoure from on-call JPLer Dr. Ed Belbruno. Ridenoure is now Manager of the Space Systems Division at Microcosm, Inc. (Torrance, CA); Belbruno is President of Innovative Orbital Design, Inc. (New York, NY).

Since Belbruno and JPLer Jim Miller were involved with the salvage of the Japanese/ISAS Hiten lunar spacecraft mission in the early 1990s (i.e., getting it to lunar orbit with limited propellant), Belbruno has developed several other novel orbit-transfer techniques using his "Weak Stability Boundary" theory.

When Belbruno heard about the Asiasat-3 problem -- the Proton's upper stage failed to circularlize from GTO to GEO, leaving it in a 51-deg. GTO orbit -- he called Ridenoure wondering whether Ridenoure knew the status of the vehicle. (Ridenoure was familiar with Belbruno's work and was also a former Hughes employee with good contacts there.) Belbruno surmised that since Asiasat-3 had been written off as a $200M loss by the insurers, perhaps it could be used as a testbed for one or more of his novel orbit transfers, as was Hiten.

Ridenoure called Hughes (Loren Slafer and Chris Cutroneo) on Jan. 12th, got some basic insight into Asiasat-3's status, orbit, engineering numbers, etc., and then spent a couple of hours getting more info on the spacecraft via the Web and analyzing the situation. Using some estimated delta-Vs from Belbruno, Ridenoure and another Microcosm mission analyst, Curtis Potterveld, determined that Hughes might be able to deliver Asiasat-3 to GEO with several YEARS of lifetime left (in terms of stationkeeping propellant), compared to NONE using conventional techniques. These rather spectacular results were conveyed by Ridenoure to Belbruno and Hughes on January 16th and since then Hughes has spent about $1M on a small, clandestine team to study and implement the basic idea.

Hughes determined that they could not adequately track the vehicle much beyond GEO, so instead of using Belbruno's suggested technique (3- to 5-month trip time, much of it well beyond the Moon), they opted for an Apollo-style "free-return" path which takes the spacecraft out of contact for only a few days. (The swingby occurs on May 7th.) Belbruno's transfer could have removed all 51 deg. of inclination; the plan Hughes is executing now takes out about 40 deg.

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