Press Release

Space Systems/Loral Celebrates Fifty Years of Satellite Innovation

By SpaceRef Editor
July 16, 2007
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Space Systems/Loral (SS/L), a subsidiary of Loral Space & Communications (NASDAQ:LORL), today announced that it is celebrating its 50-year anniversary. Founded in 1957, the company was a pioneer in communications satellites and today leads the industry in providing high-power commercial spacecraft to help satellite operators and service providers meet their business objectives.

“Over the past 50 years, the world has come to depend on satellites for communications, entertainment and national security,” said John Celli, president and chief operating officer of Space Systems/Loral. “We are very proud of our pioneering role in the industry and the contributions this company has made to advancing the world’s ability to communicate. Our 50 years of success can be attributed to our legacy of exceptional people with a passion for excellence and an unwavering commitment to our customers’ success.”

The company was founded as the Western Development Laboratories division of Philco Corporation in 1957 and started construction of the first building on its current campus in Palo Alto, California that same year. It became Philco-Ford in 1966, having been purchased by Ford Motor Company in 1961, and later was renamed Aeronutronic Ford and finally Ford Aerospace. The latter’s space division took the name Space Systems/Loral when it was acquired in 1990 by Loral Space & Communications and a consortium of international partners. In 1997, Loral became the sole owner of SS/L, and today it remains SS/L’s parent company.

Space Systems/Loral (at that time Philco) launched its first communications satellite, Courier 1B, in 1960. Courier was the world’s first active repeater satellite, and to highlight this new technology, it was used to transmit a message from President Eisenhower to the United Nations.

Today, Space Systems/Loral builds satellites for a broad range of companies around the world, including well-known direct-to-user service providers such as DIRECTV, DISH Network, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, XM Satellite Radio, and WildBlue Communications, Inc. The company now has close to 2,200 employees and a campus of more than 25 buildings in Palo Alto, California.

The People SS/L is known for its extremely stable and experienced workforce and is led by the most experienced senior management team in the industry. Unusual for Silicon Valley, nearly half of the employees have been with the company 10 years or more, and 11 employees have marked over 40 years with the company.

SS/L’s award-winning management team is led by CEO Patrick DeWitt, who was named “Satellite Executive of the Year” last February by Via Satellite magazine. Previous president and chairman Robert Berry is the recipient of multiple awards including the ISCe 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award, which he received in June 2007, and he was inducted into the Society of Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) Hall of Fame in February 2007.

Company Highlights

Commercial Satellite Leadership Space Systems/Loral became a key player in the commercial space industry in 1976 when it contracted to build seven satellites for Intelsat. Subsequently Intelsat ordered 8 more, and the 15 Intelsat V series satellites were launched between 1980 and 1989. The success of the company’s relationship with Intelsat, which is one of the world’s largest fixed satellite service providers, can be quantified by the 23 SS/L-built satellites currently operational in Intelsat’s fleet, with 3 more under construction or awaiting launch. SS/L also leads in satellites providing video, audio and multimedia broadcast, and more recently in systems for mobile satellite services, which, in conjunction with ancillary terrestrial components, provide two-way communications to mobile handsets and other devices.

High Power

The one-kilowatt (kW) Intelsat V was one of the first three-axis stabilized commercial satellites ever built. The design advance enabled the use of much larger solar arrays in order to generate more electricity to power more transponders. In the mid 1990s, SS/L implemented a number of other key technology advances that made 8- to 10-kW satellites possible, fueling the burgeoning direct-to-home television industry. The company continues to implement innovations and is currently building five satellites with record-breaking 20-kW of power.

Flexible Design

SS/L’s current satellite platform, the 1300, was first developed for the Superbird satellites that were launched between 1989 and 1992 for Space Communications Corporation of Japan. The president of the United States, George H. W. Bush, visited SS/L in 1989 and toured the satellite assembly facility in Palo Alto in recognition of the company’s contribution to foreign trade. The value of the 1300 platform architecture has been proven over the years as a result of its ability to cost-effectively adapt to a broad range of missions. Its modular design continues to accommodate technology advances and today has evolved into a space-proven platform for the company’s 20-kW class satellites.

Space Science and Exploration

The company has been a regular contributor of components and subsystems used for space exploration. Its magnetometers were placed on the Moon by Apollo astronauts; its antennas on the Voyager spacecraft have helped explore Jupiter, Uranus, Saturn, and Neptune and are still sending back data from the edge of the solar system; and its precision ranging system on the Gravity Recovery And Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites supports the detailed mapping of local variations in Earth’s gravity. SS/L provides batteries and high-power equipment for the International Space Station, with more than 20,000 pounds of SS/L equipment already installed on the Station, providing tens of kilowatts of power for the astronauts and cosmonauts working there.

Weather Satellites

SS/L was the first company to build operational weather satellites, which were launched between 1974 and 1978. Another highlight in the company’s history was its program to build five Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in the 1990s. The satellites, launched between 1994 and 2001, have collectively outperformed their life expectancy by more than 80 percent, with three of the satellites still providing critical meteorological imaging and monitoring functions. In 1996, NASA honored the company with the coveted Goddard Contractor Excellence Award for its performance on this program. More recently, SS/L provided the MTSAT-1R weather and aeronautical communications satellite to the Japanese government.


With a record of continued innovation, SS/L holds 192 active U.S. patents on satellite system technologies. The company was the first to introduce numerous advances in areas including antennas, multiplexers, advanced composite materials, batteries and power conversion, bipropellant propulsion subsystems, and on-orbit controls.


After 50 years in business, Space Systems/Loral is still on the cutting edge of the satellite industry. The company is currently producing some of the highest power satellites ever built. With solar panels spanning 106 feet across, these satellites are more powerful than was believed possible just a decade ago. Lightweight antennas are now available that can fold up compactly for launch and unfurl in orbit to nearly 60 feet in diameter. These and other advances are enabling new satellite applications such as mobile TV, broadband Internet, high-definition television, and next generation two-way handheld communications.

“Satellite technology remains the best way to broadcast one feed to many places,” said Celli. “It also brings valuable services to regions where ground infrastructure will never be economically feasible. Over the past 50 years, Space Systems/Loral has helped open new frontiers in space communications, but we have only scratched the surface of the potential services that advanced spacecraft can provide. As we look to the future, it is exciting to envision where the next 50 years of innovation will take us.”

About Space Systems/Loral

Based in Palo Alto, California, SS/L designs and builds satellites and spacecraft systems for commercial and government customers around the world. As the leading provider of high-power commercial satellites, the company works closely with satellite operators to deliver spacecraft for a broad range of services including direct-to-home television, digital audio radio, broadband Internet, and digital multimedia broadcasting. With a 50-year history and nearly 1,400 on-orbit years logged, SS/L helps customers meet business objectives with advanced solutions based on space-proven heritage designs. For more information, visit

About Loral Space & Communications

Loral Space & Communications is a satellite communications company. In addition to Space Systems/Loral, through its Skynet subsidiary Loral owns and operates a fleet of telecommunications satellites used to broadcast video entertainment programming, and for broadband data transmission, Internet services, and other value-added communications services. For more information, visit Loral’s web site at

This document contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. In addition, Loral Space & Communications Inc. or its representatives have made or may make forward-looking statements, orally or in writing, which may be included in, but are not limited to, various filings made from time to time with the Securities and Exchange Commission, press releases or oral statements made with the approval of an authorized executive officer of the company. Actual results could differ materially from those projected or suggested in any forward-looking statements as a result of a wide variety of factors and conditions. Many of these factors and conditions are described under the caption “Risk Factors” in each of the company’s annual report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2006 and its quarterly reports on Form 10-Q for subsequent periods. The reader is specifically referred to these documents, as well as the company’s other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Investor Contact: John McCarthy

Loral Space & Communications

+1 (212) 338-5345

Media Contact: Wendy Lewis

Space Systems/Loral

+1 (650) 852-5188

SpaceRef staff editor.