Hughes Family of Spacecraft

Display Status:

This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.

Collection Item Summary:

In the 1960s, communications satellites emerged as a new, effective means to transmit telephone and television signals over great geographical distances. This capability became one of the signature accomplishments of the space age, highlighting the practical, everyday benefits of spaceflight. Through the 1970s and 1980s use of these satellites rapidly increased, serving the needs of individual nations and international communications.

In this time period the Hughes Space and Communications Company was the preeminent manufacturer of communications satellites in the world, designing spacecraft for the U.S. government and corporations as well as for many nations around the world.

This poster shows the various models of communications satellites (as well as a few other spacecraft) Hughes had built as of the late 1980s. Note the increase in size of the satellites, an indicator of improved communications capability over time. Also, the cylindrical shape of most of the satellites reflects Hughes’ preference for spin-stabilization as a technique for achieving spacecraft stability in orbit.

Donated by Liz Scoggins to the Museum in 2012.