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NATO III satellites provide immediate communications links between officials of the various NATO nations. Members of the wing's 3rd Space Operations Squadron perform command and control on three of the four NATO III systems in orbit. The satellites are spin-stabilized cylindrical craft with a design life of seven years. Each system has three "horn" antennas mounted on a platform that spins in the opposite direction of the body. This enables the antennas to constantly point at the same place on earth. The systems -- tagged A, B, C and D-provide communications for officials in Belgium, Canada, Denmark, England and Germany as well as Greece, Iceland and Italy. The United States, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and Turkey also use the system. NATO III can simultaneously accommodate hundreds of NATO users and provides voice and facsimile services. NATO III satellites were launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, FL, between April 1976 and November 1984. NATO III A-C weigh 829 pounds in orbit, NATO III-D weighs 850 pounds on orbit. NATO III is 7 feet in diameter and 9 feet high, with solar arrays capable of generating 500 watts of power. The primary contractor for NATO III was Ford Aerospace.

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Page last modified: 21-07-2011 00:47:51 ZULU