Ellipso ... patented "orbital architecture"?!

Rohit Khare (rohit@uci.edu)
Wed, 23 Sep 1998 00:30:59 -0700

I was reading a Boeing ad, which said they were working with "Teledesic and
Ellipso", which is as good a reason as any to look up a firm being mentione=
in Teledesic's league. The website quoth:

Low-Cost Mobile Satellite Communications For The World
Definitely better....for everyone

Beginning in the year 2001, EllipsoTM will bring low-cost, highly reliable
satellite-based telecommunications services to areas of the world with
insufficient infrastructure. Designed to extend and complement existing
telephone and data networks, Ellipso will offer a broad range of modern,
satellite-based voice and data services to people around the world.

These services will be achieved through the use of 17 low-earth-orbit
satellites (including spares) operating in a unique and patented orbital
architecture. Ellipso=B9s efficient satellites and wideband Code Division
Multiple Access transmission method will ensure that communications service=
are available to users regardless of their location, isolation or
mobility=8Bat prices comparable to today=B9s local cellular calls and much lowe=
that those of its anticipated competitors.

EllipsoTM, Inc. of Washington, DC,=A0 is tapping into the technical and
business strengths of some of the world=B9s leading financial, high-technolog=
and telecommunications companies. And because of our efficient design and
low per-minute costs, EllipsoTM service is expected to be ideal for
developing countries seeking to expand or initiate telecommunications
services without investing in cost-prohibitive traditional infrastructure.

"Definitely better... for everyone." How deliciously Orwellian!

But the most oppresive factoid is the prospect of a patented orbital
pattern. Let's look closer...

The constellation promises a lot. "The Ellipso system will achieve its
investment objectives serving a conservative initial market of less than
1,000,000 subscribers throughout the world. Furthermore, the Ellipso design
contains built-in flexibility for tailoring the application of its resource=
to regional market demand levels and day-night variations in demand."

Their trick is that most of the populated landmass of the planet is either
equatorial (from 40s to 40n) or above 40n. Basically, skip the Southern
Hemisphere. So they have two sets of orbits, "Ellipso-Borealis=81, composed o=
two inclined orbital planes of four active satellites each, and
Ellipso-Concordia=81, an equatorial sub-constellation of initially six
satellites, and that can be augmented with four satellites for increased
daytime capacity. Figure 2 illustrates these orbits which together comprise
the Ellipso constellation.

Figure 2
Ellipso's Orbits
As shown in figure 3, the Ellipso-Borealis Constellation primarily serves
areas in the northern temperate latitudes, while the Ellipso-Concordia
Constellation serves areas in the tropical and southern latitudes"

The graphics are at http://www.ellipso.com/system.htm

The Borealis (northern) orbits are highly perturbed, "apogees of 7,605
kilometers, perigees of around 633 kilometers, and a three-hour orbital
period." The orbits are " sun-synchronous. That is, the orientation of the
orbital plane remains fixed relative to the direction to the sun throughout
the year."

Boeing partnered with them May 4 and began building satellites June 22.

There are 9 patents at the IBM server that reference ellipso's announcement=
but none that have ellipso as an assignee or inventor (most of the 9 seem t=
be GlobalStar, which was Loral/Qualcomm, right?)

Lloyd? DanK?