Italy's second national communications satellite, ITALSAT 2 was dual launched aboard an Ariane 44L booster from Kourou, French Guiana. Placed in geosynchronous orbit above 13.2 deg. e, the satellite served as a spaceborne telephone switchboard, redirecting up to 12,000 calls at once. ITALSAT was experimental in nature, a pre-operational component of a proposed digital satellite network for Italy. Built by Selenia Spazio for Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (the Italian Space Agency), ITALSAT 2 was box-shaped, measuring 2.72 by 2.22 by 3.48 m. It was 6.1 m tall with its two 2-m reflector antennas deployed. Solar arrays spanned 21 m and provided 1,600 W of power. Its communications package housed six 20/30 GHz multibeam transponders, three 20/30 GHz global beam transponders and a propagation experiment operating at 40/50 GHz. The multibeam system, using advanced time division multiple access (TDMA) techniques, was expected to undergo two years of testing; the global beam system was considered operational from the start and was used to test new services. ITALSAT 2 had a 5-year design life.
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