National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Glenn Research Center

ACTS Satellite Description

The Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS) was a NASA technologies testbed which pioneered advancements in antenna and communication system technology and provided the first successful commercial implementation of the Ka-band spectrum.

Components comprising the various communications systems onboard the ACTS satellite

Components comprising the various communications systems onboard the ACTS satellite

Artist rendition of the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS)

Artist rendition of the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS)

Situated on the ACTS satellite were three beacons operating at 20.185 (horizontal-polarization), 20.195 (vertical polarization), and 27.5 GHz frequencies. Though primarily used for signal acquisition, these beacons provided continuous signals for use in a nationwide propagation campaign which served to provide invaluable information on atmospheric propagation effects at Ka-band.

By collecting propagation data at various climates throughout the US, the data collected from the ACTS propagation campaign led to global propagation models for satellite system design and performance analysis, still in use today.