Sky Station Frequently Asked Questions
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Sky Station International
1824 R Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009 USA
fax 1.202.518.0802



What is the Sky Station system?
The Sky Station system is a network of lighter-than-air platforms which are held in a geo-stationary position in the stratosphere (approximately 22Km) over a major metropolitan area utilizing proprietary technologies.Each Sky Station platform is equipped with a telecommunications payload providing high speed, high capacity wireless broadband service to an area of approximately 19,000 square kilometers (7,500 square miles). Coverage can also be extended into rural areas outside this zone. Remote sensing and monitoring devices can also be installed on the platform providing invaluable continuous data collection.

What services are provided by the Sky Station system?
When launched over a city, a Sky Station platform immediately provides the necessary infrastructure to enable high speed broadband wireless service to millions of users. The technology to provide wireless service from the stratosphere is called Stratospheric Telecommunications Service.

Equipped with a SkyStation user terminal, users will enjoy broadband service at 2Mbps-10Mbps. These high data rates can be used for a multitude of services, from internet browsing and hosting, TV/Internet access, full motion video chat/video conferencing, local and long distance telephony, on-line remote monitoring, security - in summary, any broadband service, which includes all technologies offered through the internet, will be compatible with Sky Station service.

In addition to the telecommunications service, Sky Station International is dedicated to the environment and will provide environmental, humanitarian, urban planning & development applications through technologies such as remote sensing. For further information, you may contact our environmental applications group.

How many Sky Stations will there be and where will they be located?
Ultimately there will be at least 250 Sky Station platforms, one about 21 km (70,000 feet) above every major city in the world. There may be more around large population centers, such as Tokyo or London and additional platforms can be added at any time to increase capacity over specific regions.

Because each platform will utilize the same telecommunications payload, and due to the portable nature of our service, users will enjoy the same high speed service when they travel that they will be accustomed to at home.

When will the Sky Station system be available?
Stratospheric Telecommunications Service will commence with the first Sky Station platform deployment in 2000. After that, at least one platform will be launched per week until all populous parts of the world enjoy Stratospheric Telecommunications Service. Sky Station platforms will be implemented in accordance with user demand as expressed by responsible organizations in each country.

How much will Stratospheric Telecommunications Service cost?
A 2Mbps (burstable up to 10 Mbps) Stratospheric Internet channel will cost only a few cents per minute. Stratospheric Telecommunications Service will be broadband and have low latency (less than 0.5 millisecond compared to about 250 milliseconds for GEO-based services) along with none of the hand-off problems that plague LEO-based services.

How can I become involved with the Sky Station system?
The Stratospheric Telecommunications technology by Sky Station is the first major innovation in telecommunications since the satellite and cellular technologies. The exponentially increasing demand for broadband connectivity is driving great interest in Sky Station at many levels.

Sky Station is a privately funded company. Current and potential investors may contact us for information on investment opportunities.

If you are interested in provisioning Sky Station service in your country, our International Department can assist you.

Opportunities exist for manufacturers who are interested in the platform, user terminal or ground station requirements.

Our growth has generated employment opportunities in many disciplines.

Why is the 47 GHz frequency band used for Sky Stations?
The 47 GHz frequency band (47.2-47.5 GHz stratosphere-to-earth and 47.9-48.2 GHz earth-to-stratosphere) was selected for several reasons.

First, it is a general principle of spectrum management to place new technologies in the highest and least occupied frequency bands consistent with their necessary operating characteristics and table of frequency allocation classifications.

Second, new technologies should use the minimum amount of bandwidth necessary to provide the required service. The requirement for Stratospheric Telecommunications Service is universal broadband wireless access to low-cost, consumer-oriented user terminals. Using the most advanced techniques of spectrum efficiency, the service requires a paired band of 300 MHz.

How big are Sky Station platforms?
Sky Station platforms can be of variable size depending on market demand. The average platform will be approximately 157 m long (515 feet) and 62 m (203 feet) in diameter at the widest point. That makes a Sky Station platform about as wide as a football field and 1.7 times as long.

How safe are Sky Station platforms?
Flight safety is a major consideration of the Sky Station system development effort. Each platform will be constructed to the same exacting aerospace standards as commercial aircraft and satellites. Sky Station platforms will be FAA certified and each individual platform will be inspected and approved prior to launch.

Multiple safety features are being integrated into the entire system, the most important of which is the on-board monitoring system. Installed in each Sky Station platform, it reports back a steady stream of information to the Ground Control Station. This early warning system enables us to anticipate problems and take the appropriate corrective actions before they actually occur. Platforms can be recalled for repair if necessary. A new platform will be deployed in advance to replace the existing one so there will be no interruption of service.

The use of zero pressure inner balloonets greatly reduces the probability of any catastrophic rupture of the main balloonets since their envelopes are hardly stressed. A double envelope design insures that any rupture in the helium balloonets results in a gradual loss of buoyancy enabling the master control system to safely propel the platform to the ground. Further, the most heavily stressed structural balloons are very thick-skinned and resistant to rupture.

Safety is built into the Sky Station STS system with multiple redundancy to insure safe, continuous Stratospheric Telecommunications Service to users on a global basis.

Who is building the Sky Station system?
The Sky Station system is being designed and developed by an industrial team consisting of recognized global leaders in their fields. The team members include Aerospatiale of France for the airship, Finmeccanica S.p.A. Alenia Aerospazio for the communications payload and Thomson-CSF for the ground electronics and user terminals. Dornier Satellitensysteme GmbH in Germany - a corporate unit of Daimler-Benz Aerospace - is the supplier for several critical subsystems, COMSAT Laboratories of Maryland is the communications network integrator and Thomson-CSF Communications of France is the gateway earth station manufacturer and payload sub-contractor. United Solar Systems Corp. of Michigan is the supplier of lightweight photovoltaic modules, and Stanford Telecom of California is one of the contractors for user terminals.

Alenia Aerospazio, based near Rome, Italy, operates the world's highest volume satellite communications production facility. It is currently being used to produce dozens of Globalstar low earth orbit satellites, and will next be used to produce 250 Sky Station telecommunications payloads. Alenia Aerospazio is also the world leader in millimeter wave payloads, with the world's first operational satellite that uses the 49 GHz band.

Thomson-CSF is number one in Europe and number three worldwide in professional advanced electronic equipment and systems for information and communication. Thomson-CSF is currently extending France's radio spectrum control system and providing a new approach and landing-aid system for the entire Airbus range of jetliners.

Where can I get Sky Station service?
Sky Station services will be offered by leading telecommunications companies in each country. Ask your local telecommunications provider for a stratospheric connection. As Sky Station's commercial service begins, we will add details to this web page on whom to call for service in your city. 

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