Teledesic satellite drawing

source enlarged and sharpened

To my untrained eye I see a weird claw or flower-like antenna array with eight petals in the shape reminiscent of concave dish but not really, that look like they might fold together but not really.

Then there's a stem that extends up to a flat solar panel.

But apart from an the antenna flower and solar panel I'm left asking myself "Where's the beef satellite?"

Question: Why do Teledesic satellites look so weird? What are these structures and where's the satellite bus?

How does this "antenna flower" work? Where's the satellite bus?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Did you find any evidence that this was more than an artists impression? The only satellite they ever launched was used a commercial platform. $\endgroup$
    – asdfex
    Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 8:42
  • $\begingroup$ @asdfex ya these are almost always artists impressions, but some are less informed than others. However it's the only image available in Wikipedia's Teledesic If the answer is "Because they don't look like that" then that's the answer! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 9:57
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's weird to think that ~900 satellites was once considered "extremely ambitious". $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 13:31
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @JörgWMittag When you're not your own launch provider, 900 satellites is still considered extremely ambitious. $\endgroup$
    – dotancohen
    Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 10:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's a satellite which focuses solar energy down to the ground in order to provide sunlight for growing plants, and it's most definitely not a weapon to detonate the minefield between North and South Korea as a pretext for an invasion. It was featured in the popular 2002 documentary "Die Another Day". (reference) $\endgroup$
    – Aaron F
    Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 20:54

1 Answer 1


After a great deal of searching, I found a PDF here, by Mark A Sturza of Teledesic. There's a basic diagram of the satellite on page 8

Image credit: Teledesic Coporation

(Image credit: Teledesic Coporation)

There is also the following description:

The on-orbit configuration of the Teledesic satellite, Figure 8, resembles a flower with eight “petals” and a large boom-mounted square solar array. The deployed satellite is 12 m in diameter and the solar array is 12 m on each side. Each petal consists of three large panels containing the phase-array antennas. The octagonal baseplate also supports eight pairs of intersatellite link antennas, the two satellite bus structures that house the engineering subsystem components, and propulsion thrusters. A third satellite bus structure, containing power equipment and additional propulsion thrusters, is mounted at the end of the solar array boom. The solar array is articulated to point to the sun.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's beautiful, and I see now the "two satellite bus structures" are integral to the back of the flower. I'd found the image in this list and not on the Teledesic page and was so fascinated by it that I wrote the question. I'm just now finally realizing that the constellation was never launched, and even a single complete satellite may never have been built with this complete configuration. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 23:36
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Ok, so the image above has as much in common with a real satellite as the typical "design concepts" shown at automobile fairs have with a real car? $\endgroup$
    – rob74
    Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 18:27

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