Girish Mahajan

Superbird B1

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Mission type  Communication
SATCAT no.  21893
Launch date  26 February 1992
Inclination  12.3°
Rocket  Ariane 4
Bus  SSL 1300
COSPAR ID  1992-010A
Spacecraft  Superbird-B1
Inclination  12.3°
Launch mass  2,560 kg
Manufacturer  Ford Aerospace
Operator  Space Communications Corporation
Dimensions  Stowed:2.41 m × 2.58 m × 2.20 m (7 ft 11 in × 8 ft 6 in × 7 ft 3 in) Solar arrays extended:20.3 m (67 ft)

Superbird-B1, sometimes identified as Superbird-1B, was a geostationary communications satellite designed and manufactured by Ford Aerospace (now SSL MDA) on the SSL 1300 platform. It was originally ordered by Space Communications Corporation (SCC), which later merged into the SKY Perfect JSAT Group. It had a mixed Ku band, Ka band and X band payload and was rushed into launch at the 162°E longitude due to the launch failure of Superbird-B.


It was ordered in 1985 along Superbird-A, Superbird-B and Superbird-A1 on the very first order of the SSL 1300 platform. It was also the second satellite of SCC on orbit and the fourth commercial satellite of Japan to enter operations. It was used for video distribution, news gathering, remote publishing and high definition TV service to the main islands of Japan and Okinawa.

Satellite description

The spacecraft was the third satellite designed and manufactured by Ford Aerospace on the SSL 1300 satellite bus. It was based on the design of the Intelsat V series and offered a three-axis stabilized platform.

It had a launch mass of 2,560 kg (5,640 lb) and a 10-year design life. When stowed for launch, its dimensions were 2.41 m × 2.58 m × 2.20 m (7 ft 11 in × 8 ft 6 in × 7 ft 3 in). With its solar panels fully extended it spanned 20.3 m (67 ft). Its power system generated approximately 3,984 W of power thanks to two wings with three solar panels each. It also had two NiH2 battery to survive the solar eclipses. It would serve as the main satellite on the 162°E longitude position of the Superbird fleet.

Its propulsion system included an R-4D-11 LAE with a thrust of 490 N (110 lbf). It included enough propellant for orbit circularization and 10 years of operation.

Its payload is composed of 23 Ku band plus 3 Ka band and 2 X band transponders.


Space Communications Corporation (SCC) was founded in 1985, the same year as the original companies that later formed JSAT. On 1986 SCC ordered four spacecrafts, Superbird-1, Superbird-2, Superbird-A1 and Superbird-B1, from Ford Aerospace, which became Space Systems/Loral in October 1990.

On February 22, 1990 at 23:19 UTC, Superbird-2 launch failed and the satellite was lost. Thus, Superbird-B1 was rushed and delivered in just 19 months. On February 26, 1992 at 23:58:10 UTC Superbird-B1, the fourth private communications satellite of Japan to orbit, was launched aboard an Ariane 44L along Arabsat-1C. It was injected into a 222 km × 35,776 km × 7° geosynchronous transfer orbit, from which it climbed through three liquid apogee engine firings.


Superbird-B1 Wikipedia

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