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Physics Geosynchronous Orbits Geosynchronous Orbits Geostationary Orbits Websters dictionary defines a Geostationary orbit as of relating to or being a satellite that travels above Earths equator from west to east at an altitude of approximately 35900 kilometers 22300 miles and at a speed matching that of Earths rotation thus remaining stationary in relation to Earth 2 Of relating to or being the orbit of such a satellite In plain English a satellite matches the earths rotation making it seemingly hover over one spot of the globe enabling coverage of half the earths surface Three such satellites appropriately spaced longitudinally have worldwide coverage except for relatively small areas over the poles Three main classes are typically placed into a GSO Communications missile early warning and navigational satellites The uses are unlimited ranging from commercial use to weather forecasts The GSO originated in the mid-1970s The US Air Force designed a two-stage interim upper stage later renamed inertial upper stage or IUS to carry satellites weighing as much as 5000 pounds 2300 kg from the shuttle to Geostationary orbit and a three-stage version for boosting NASA s space probes from the shuttle into interplanetary trajectories IUS development problems however prompted NASA in the early 1980 s to design a widebody version of the Centaur upper stage to replace the three-stage IUS In its first use 1983 aboard the shuttle the IUSs second-stage nozzle burned through and left the first Tracking and Data Relay Satellite TDRS-1 in a useless orbit Ground controllers were able to use the satellites onboard thrusters to put it in the proper Geostationary orbit over a period of weeks but the IUS was grounded until the nozzle problem was resolved Because the IUS was too large and expensive for most satellites going to Geostationary
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