The purpose of a Satellite Ground Station is to provide a facility to support the necessary links from the ground to the satellite. These facilities serve many purposes and applications.

The transmit and receive frequency bands used are defined by the FCC and other international regulatory administrations or commissions and are licensed to the owner of the satellite along with the bandwidth and it’s orbital location.  The owners company will administer frequency assignments and bandwidth for all the traffic over the satellite. Each ground station is also licensed to transmit at specific frequencies, modulation type and power levels.  Receive only applications do not require a license.

There are smaller applications that only require an antenna, receive hardware, and/or limited transmit, and an interface for data, video or voice. These fall into a category that is referred to as earth terminals, Hubs and VSAT terminals. These systems connect one location to a network through the satellite and are not normally spoken of as ground stations they are considered terminals. Uses of this type include receive only systems where the information is transmitted from a central location and received at multiple locations Satellite TV falls into this area. Transmit only terminals have been used to collect information and transmit it a central location for processing such as seismic detectors, flow rate monitors and buoys to mention a few. Two way communications are also supported by these terminals for transfer of data, voice and video for training systems, teleconferencing with remote locations, transfer of data and billing information, and voice systems.  Similar types of all of these systems have also been installed in airplanes, trains, ships and trucks to suite their application needs as well.

Ground stations are normally larger facilities and are dedicated to providing links to the satellite or multiple satellites. Communications centers provide the interface to a wide variety of sources, cable, fiber optic, microwave, cellular, video, data, voice and other satellites. Communications Hubs, Tele-ports and customer premise terminals fall into this classification. These facilities transmit and receive large volumes of traffic and have redundant equipment to minimize outages due to equipment failures. To minimize the chances of equipment failure and extend the operational life of the hardware, it is installed in rooms that are both temperature and humidity controlled. Commercial power outages can cause significant loss of revenue so they normally install uninterrupted power systems (battery backup) called UPS and generators for use when commercial power is not available.

Telemetry Tracking and Command stations specialize in the control of the satellite and processing of it’s data. Often these stations have one antenna for each satellite it operates and a spare antenna with fast full motion control so it can be used to quickly access any satellite being controlled. These stations are typically collocated with or directly connected to Satellite Control Centers, Network Control Centers, and Broadcast Centers.