Timeline of FSS, MSS and VSAT Satellite Services

This article will be updated as new information is available.

FSS (Fixed Satellite Services), MSS (Mobile Satellite Services), and VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) satellite services have evolved over time to provide communication services worldwide. Here is a detailed timeline of the significant milestones of these satellite services:

1950s-1960s: Early satellite communication era

  • 1957: The USSR launches Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite, marking the dawn of the space age.
  • 1960: The U.S. launches Echo 1, a passive communications satellite that bounces signals off its surface.
  • 1962: Telstar 1, the first commercial satellite, is launched by AT&T to provide transatlantic telephony and television services.
  • 1963: Syncom 2, the world’s first geostationary satellite, is launched by the U.S.
  • 1964: The Intelsat organization is founded to provide international satellite communication services.
  • 1965: The first commercial geostationary satellite, Early Bird (also known as Intelsat I), is launched, enabling continuous FSS coverage between North America and Europe.

1970s: The rise of FSS and birth of VSAT

  • 1970: Intelsat IV, a new generation of FSS satellites with significantly increased capacity, is launched.
  • 1972: The first domestic satellite service, Anik A1, is launched by Canada.
  • 1974: The first maritime satellite, Marisat, is launched, laying the groundwork for future MSS development.
  • 1976: The first VSAT, developed by NASA, is used for data transmission and reception.
  • 1978: The first Indian satellite, Aryabhata, is launched for communication and meteorological purposes.

1980s: Expansion of FSS, MSS, and VSAT services

  • 1981: Intelsat V, a new generation of FSS satellites with increased capacity and coverage, is launched.
  • 1982: The first commercially available VSAT system, Domsat, is introduced by Hughes Network Systems.
  • 1984: The first Thuraya satellite is launched, providing MSS for the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.
  • 1986: Inmarsat, an international satellite organization, launches its first maritime communication satellite, Inmarsat-A, providing MSS for the maritime industry.
  • 1988: Iridium, a global MSS provider, is founded to provide global satellite-based voice and data services.
  • 1989: The first Japanese satellite for mobile communications, NTT’s DoCoMo, is launched.

1990s: Consolidation and growth

  • 1991: Inmarsat-C, offering data and messaging services, is launched.
  • 1993: Globalstar, another MSS provider, is founded to offer satellite-based voice and data services.
  • 1994: The first VSAT network in Africa is deployed, connecting 36 countries.
  • 1995: The first satellite-based Direct-to-Home (DTH) TV service, DirecTV, is launched in the U.S., utilizing FSS technology.
  • 1998: Iridium launches its first satellite constellation to provide global MSS.
  • 1999: Thuraya-1, the first geostationary satellite for MSS in the Middle East, is launched.

2000s: Emergence of Ka-band and High Throughput Satellites (HTS)

  • 2001: Eutelsat launches its first Ka-band satellite, Ka-Sat, providing high-speed broadband services using FSS.
  • 2003: Inmarsat-4 satellites are launched, introducing the Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) service, enabling mobile broadband services using MSS.
  • 2005: SES ASTRA launches its first broadband satellite system, ASTRA2Connect, offering broadband internet access via satellite in Europe.
  • 2007: ViaSat launches its first satellite, WildBlue-1, providing Ka-band FSS for residential broadband services in the United States.
  • 2008: Inmarsat launches its first maritime satellite with global coverage, FleetBroadband, using L-band MSS technology.
  • 2010: ViaSat-1 is launched, becoming the highest-capacity satellite at the time, offering high-speed broadband services using FSS.

2010s: Continued growth and innovation

  • 2011: LightSquared (later renamed Ligado Networks) announces its plans to develop an MSS network integrated with a terrestrial LTE network.
  • 2013: O3b Networks (now SES Networks) launches its first satellites to provide low-latency, fiber-like broadband services using FSS and a Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) constellation.
  • 2014: Inmarsat launches its first Global Xpress satellite, providing high-speed broadband using Ka-band FSS.
  • 2015: SpaceX announces the Starlink project, aiming to provide global broadband internet coverage using a constellation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.
  • 2017: Iridium completes the launch of its NEXT satellite constellation, offering enhanced MSS capabilities.
  • 2018: Telesat begins launching its Lightspeed LEO satellite constellation, aiming to provide global broadband services.
  • 2018: OneWeb launches its first satellites, aiming to provide global internet coverage using a LEO constellation.
  • 2019: The first batch of Starlink satellites are launched, with plans for a large constellation to provide global internet coverage.

2020s: New constellations and expanding services

  • 2021: Amazon announces its Project Kuiper, a plan to deploy over 3,000 LEO satellites to provide global broadband services.
  • Ongoing: The development and deployment of new satellite constellations (such as Starlink and Project Kuiper) and the continuous improvement of FSS, MSS, and VSAT services. New players, including AST SpaceMobile and Lynk, are working on innovative solutions to provide direct satellite-to-smartphone connectivity.

As satellite technology continues to advance, FSS, MSS, and VSAT services are expected to play an increasingly important role in global communications. The ongoing development of new satellite constellations and services will contribute to bridging the digital divide and providing reliable communication services worldwide.