In 1978, ESA launched the Orbital Test Satellite, OTS. 10 years later it still functions and its progenitors, the ECS series, now dominate telecommunications in Europe. This film looks at OTS,ECS, Olympus and the trends of the future.
By the early 1970's, two-way communications between continents by satellite was becoming a rapidly growing business but, because of the limitation of the technology at that time on the power that such satellites could transmit, the entry points to the system were restricted to very large Earth station.
These stations, which had antennae typically of 30 meters diameter, required large investment in equipment and manpower.
Due to advance being made in satellite technology, with higher power available from the same mass in orbit, the possibility of smaller and more numerous earth stations on the ground started to become apparent. Satellite communication could then be considered to be economically viable over shorter distances, such as in Europe.
At this time the European Space Agency, then called the European Space Research Organisation, started to work on the first multinational telecommunications satellite in Europe, the Orbital Test Satellite (OTS). This was designed by ESA's European Space Research Techno