Table 4-156. Chronology of Applications Technology Satellites 5 and 6 Development and Operations





May 1966

The Goddard Space Flight Center awarded three contracts for feasibility studies (Phase A) for an advanced Applications Technology Satellite (ATS F and G) to Fairchild-Hiller, General Electric (GE) Company, and Lockheed Missiles and Space.

July 7, 1966

Goddard issued a request for proposals (RFP) to industry for an ATS antenna design study.

Aug. 22, 1966

Goddard received antenna design study proposals. from nine companies.

Dec. 14, 1966

Goddard awarded an antenna design study contract to Goodyear.

Jan. 1967

The three contractors completed their feasibility studies for Goddard.

May 14, 1967

Goodyear completed its antenna study.

June 27, 1967

NASA exercised its option to continue its contract with Goodyear and requested the company to proceed with a detailed design and fabrication of a full-scale test model of its antenna.

Jan. 16, 1968

NASA issued an invitation to participate in the ATS F and G missions to potential investigators.

Feb. 8, 1968

Goddard solicited Phase B/C ATS proposals from industry.

Sept. 1968

Goddard awarded Phase B/C contracts to GE and Fairchild.

Oct. 1968

NASA chose 18 experimenters for the ATS F mission.

Apr. 1969

Goodyear delivered its model antenna to Goddard.

Aug. 12, 1969

NASA launched ATS 5 into transfer orbit. Excessive motion caused the spacecraft to spin transversely. After the motor case was ejected, the spacecraft began spinning about the proper axis, but going the wrong direction. The gravity gradient experiments could not be performed; only secondary experiments were accomplished.


GE and Fairchild submitted Phase D proposals to Goddard.

Dec. 1969

At NASA's direction, GE and Fairchild submitted revised Phase D proposals, taking into account recent budget adjustments.

Late 1969-

The source evaluation board charged with selecting an ATS prime contractor met.

Early 1970

Their initial scoring was Fairchild 699, GE 664. Second scoring was Fairchild 683, GE 670. A final score showed Fairchild 686, GE 687. They judged the two proposals to be technically equal; the cost differences were minor.

Feb. 5, 1970

NASA advised GE and Fairchild that further budget cuts would cause a delay in launching ATS F by one year; the agency asked the potential contractors to submit revised proposals based on the new launch target.

Feb. 16, 1970

Fairchild advised NASA that it would try to meet the Feb. 27 deadline for the revised proposal, but that Mar. 6 was the earliest date it could guarantee submission.

Feb. 18, 1970

GE advised NASA that it needed additional time to reply to the request for a revised proposal; it would try to submit by Mar. 4.

Feb. 25, 1970

Fairchild called Goddard, advising the center of its intention to submit a telegraphic request for extension to Mar. 2. (Fairchild later claimed that they were told by NASA that a similar request from GE had not been approved and their request could not be approved either.)

Feb. 27, 1970

Fairchild submitted its proposal at 4 p.m.

Mar. 4, 1970

Fairchild submitted an optional proposal, which was later rejected. Fairchild also learned that GE had not yet delivered its bid and asked that its proposal not be submitted to Goddard personnel until receipt of GE's, but the proposal had already been circulated.

Mar. 6, 1970

GE submitted its bid, which had been revised to show a reduction in overhead costs; the new total was just below that of Fairchild's.

Mar. 10, 1970

NASA conducted a fact-finding session with Fairchild at Goddard.

Mar. 11-12, 1970

NASA conducted a fact-finding session with GE at Goddard.

Apr. 3, 1970

The source evaluation board reported that the two proposers were technically equal, but that GE's proposal was approximately 2% lower in cost.

Apr. 7, 1970

The board delivered its oral report to the NASA administrator.

Apr. 8, 1970

NASA announced that the ATS contract would be awarded to GE. Fairchild claimed that GE could have used the extra week it took to deliver its proposal unfairly, since its contract was already circulating at Goddard during that time.

Apr. 9, 1970

NASA Administrator Thomas 0. Paine requested that the General Accounting Office (GAO) review the events leading to the selection of GE as the contractor for ATS.

July 2, 1970

GAO advised NASA to reconsider the selection and reopen the bidding.

July 16, 1970

Paine appointed a Selection Panel and an ATS Procurement Review Committee to review the decision to award GE the contract over Fairchild.

Aug. 26, 1970

The committee delivered its report.

Sept. 5, 1970

On the recommendations of the committee, NASA reversed its decision and awarded the ATS contract to Fairchild, based on Fairchild's superior technical abilities.

Nov. 12, 1970

NASA announced the experimenters for ATS F.

Spring 1972

Because of cost overruns and other problems with the contractor management, NASA postponed the ATS F launch from spring 1973 to spring 1974.


Lewis Research Center announced that it would be contracting for a study of an advanced ATS (H/I) satellite to be launched in 1977-1978. Advanced ATS was proposed as a new start for FY 1973 by Associate Administrator John Naugle, but it was not approved by Congress.

Jan. 1973

Congress decreased funding for NASA's applications program by $35.7 million. As a result, NASA decided to cancel the ATS G mission.


At the Johnson Space Center, technicians completed the ATS F mechanical and structural qualifications program.

May 30, 1974

NASA launched ATS 6 successfully. It was used during its first year of operations to transmit medical and educational programs to remote communities in Alaska, the Rocky Mountains, and Appalachia.

May-July 1974

Members of Congress who favor continuing the ATS program with the launching of ATS G lobbied for support; they were unsuccessful.

Nov. 1974

NASA directed Fairchild to mothball the ATS G spacecraft.

May-June 1975

NASA controllers moved ATS 6 from its initial location in the western hemisphere to a location over eastern Africa where it can support communications experiments in India.

July 15-24, 1975

ATS 6 made real-time television possible during the joint U.S.-USSR Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

July 1975

NASA invited organizations to propose experiments for the third year of ATS 6 operations.

Aug.-Dec. 1976

NASA began moving ATS 6 back to the western hemisphere in August. It was used along the way in direct broadcasting experiments in many developing countries.

May 7, 1979

ATS 6's prime east thruster failed.

June 30, 1979

NASA terminated ATS 6 services to users.

July 13, 1979

Two more thrusters failed on ATS 6.

Aug. 6, 1979

NASA boosted ATS 6 out of geostationary orbit.

Nov. 24, 1979

Ground controllers reactivated ATS 6 for use with a NOAA experiment.

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