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GeoLITE (Geosynchronous Lightweight Technology Experiment) was an advanced, experimental communications satellite featuring Laser and UHF communication devices. It is operated by the NRO.

GeoLITE was the first mission for TRW's T-310 satellite bus, a new lightweight, highly stable platform capable of a range of missions. TRW had system integration responsibility for GeoLITE, including the satellite development, integration and preparation for launch. Teammates included the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory, which was responsible for the laser communications payload, and Hughes Space and Communications Company, which was responsible for the UHF communications payload

The laser communications experiments consisted of:

  • the GeoLITE Laster Terminal (GLT) to provide the NRO with information concerning high data rate geosynchronous orbit to ground communications in varying atmospheric conditons. It provided data to refine models and systems to reduce costs, riskas and schedule for future operational lasercom systems.
  • the GLOM radiometer payload to measure the intensity fluctuations and polaization of the laser beams transmitted from Earth to the GeoLITE satellite

The UHF payload was part of the IBS-S (Integrated Broadcast Service - Simplex) inteligence data dissemination architecture to replace the older military satellite communications (MILSATCOM) archtecture. Other IBS-S payloads were flown on different missions to provide geostationary and polar coverage.

The satellite was designed and built in 3 1/2 years using streamlined program methodologies.

Note: The NROL designations refer to the launch, not to the payload.

Nation: USA
Type / Application: Communication (Experimental)
Operator: NRO
Contractors: TRW (prime); Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory (laser payload); Hughes (IBS-S payload)
Equipment: GLT, GLOM, IBS-S
Configuration: T310
Propulsion: TR-500 SCAT
Power: 2 deployable solar arrays, batteries
Lifetime: 9 years
Mass: ca. 1800 kg
Orbit: GEO
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
GeoLITE (USA 158, NROL 17) 2001-020A 18.05.2001 CC SLC-17B Delta-7925


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