Hanscom Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, Meeting

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

MIT Lincoln Laboratory Auditorium

Refreshments: 3:30 PM, Talk 4 - 5 PM

Joint Meeting with the IEEE Life Members

LES-8/9: Thirty Years of Orbital Service

Dr. William W. Ward, Lincoln Laboratory

Lincoln Experimental Satellites 8 and 9 (LES-8/9) were launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on 14 March 1976. During the ensuing three decades they have more than met their development goals by demonstrating the military utility of their highly reliable and survivable links for strategic communication. They have also pioneered satellite-to-satellite communication links and have opened up the EHF spectrum for widespread use. The technologies they demonstrated have been transferred to operational DoD systems.

LES-8/9 turned out to have unanticipated capabilities. For example, they have made contributions to science through their support of radio-astronomy observatories throughout North and South America and Europe. Their inclined, circular, geosynchronous orbits provided lengthy daily intervals during which communication was possible between stations in the Arctic and Antarctic and stations in the U. S., something which geostationary satellites cannot do. Their inclined orbits made possible the estimation of the locations of terrestrial transmitters in the satellites' receive-frequency bands.

LES-8 was retired on 2 June 2004 after 28 years of service. LES-9 support continues to be called for by DoD users. This satellite is now in its fourth decade of active duty. Viewed in retrospect, the achievements of LES-8/9 are impressive. More important today, the problems faced during their development, testing, and operation in orbit have much to teach us as we face the problems that will come up in our own future work. There will be a display of LES-8/9 posters and artifacts in the area outside the Auditorium before and after the lecture.

William W. Ward was born in Texas in 1924. During World War II he was in the Army Signal Corps, operating installing, maintaining and repairing cryptographic equipment in the Pacific Theater of Operations. He received a BS in EE from the A&M College of Texas in 1948 and an MS and PhD in EE from Cal Tech in 1949 and 1952. His first 13 years at Lincoln were devoted to radar system engineering (airborne and ground -based surveillance radars, space tracking and range instrumentation for NASA’s Project Mercury and for ballistic-missile testing). Since 1965 his work has been devoted to space communication, primarily the development of systems that serve the diverse needs of the military and civil user communities by means of reliable links through satellites. He has helped to design, build, test and operate in orbit Lincoln Experimental Satellites 5, 6, 8 and 9 and two EHF packages carried by host satellites FLTSAT-7 and FLTSAT-8. He has also contributed to the Operations Centers associated with these satellites.

He retired from Lincoln Laboratory in 1994 after long service as Manager of Satellite Operations (Keeper of Old Satellites). He is currently a Distinguished Lecturer for the IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Society.

The meeting will be held at the Lincoln Lab Auditorium at 4:00 PM. Refreshments will be served at 3:30 PM.  Registration is in the main lobby.  Foreign national visitors to Lincoln Lab require visit requests.  You may also pre-register by e-mail to
reception@ll.mit.edu; please indicate your citizenship. You will not receive a confirmation of your pre-registration, however, your badge will be ready for you when you register.   Please use the Wood Street Gate.  For directions go to http://www.ll.mit.edu For other information, contact Ed Altshuler, Chairman at (781)377-4662 or edward.altshuler@hanscom.af.mil