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Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS)

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ACTS deployment from Space ShuttleAbout ACTS

With the launch of ACTS on September 12, 1993, a new and award winning on-ramp to the information superhighway was opened to heavy traffic. Offering significant, revolutionary breakthroughs in satellite communications history, the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite (ACTS) was conceived as a partnership project between NASA and industry. ACTS provided a unique demonstration testbed for U.S. companies and institutions to experiment with and validate advanced communications technologies. [More history]

Satellite Systems ComparisonA Communications Pioneer

ACTS is the first all-digital, gigabit-capacity communication satellite. Operating in the K- and Ka-frequency bands (20 GHz and 30 GHz, respectively), ACTS pioneered dynamic hopping spot beams and advanced onboard traffic switching and processing. Located in geostationary orbit, ACTS was the first satellite with the ability to carry digital communications at standard fiber-optic data rates with the same quality of transmission, with the potential of added performance and cost advantages. ACTS technology integrated with existing ground fiber-optic systems for transmission of data at high rates of speed over great distances and to the most remote locations.

ACTS Consortium

As of May 2001, usage of ACTS was transferred to a university-based consortium called the Ohio Consortium for Advanced Communications Technology (OCACT). The consortium was organized by Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. While NASA continues to provide for operations through contractor staffing, the consortium fully reimburses NASA for operations costs. This arrangement ensures that the satellite remain available to support education and research opportunities and still remain an experimental Ka-band platform over the United States.

Project's Impact

Space Technology Hall of Fame MedalThe overwhelming success of ACTS continues to demonstrate NASA's leadership role in pioneering advanced technologies for space communications. The ACTS project set the stage for the evolution of the information era and addressing the expanding need for communications resources. ACTS technology showed the world new ways to more efficiently allocate orbital and radio spectrum resources, offer alternatives in voice, data and video communications services at reasonable cost and provide these benefits regardless of geographic location. The development of ACTS and its extensive experiments program provided a national asset that benefited us all.


The significance of ACTS technologies has been recognized through various awards. ACTS was inducted into the Space Technology Hall of Fame [external link] in April 1997 for its contributions to the commercialization of space technology. ACTS was also selected for 1995's R&D 100 Award in the Significant Technology category and was the winner of the prestigious Federal Technology Leadership Award.

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