[puh-lah-puh; Sp. pah-lah-pah]

Palapa was a series of communication satellites owned by Telkom, an Indonesian telecommunication company. Its well-known satellite is Palapa B2, which was launched from the Space Shuttle, but failed to reach orbit and was salvaged with a second Shuttle mission.

The program was started in February 1975, when the government of Indonesia awarded the contract for two satellites to Boeing. The name Palapa was chosen by president Suharto and means 'fruits of labor'.

The name Palapa also alludes to "Sumpah Palapa" the oath taken by Gajah Mada, a 14th century Prime Minister of the Javanese Majapahit Empire described in the Pararaton (Book of Kings). Gajah Mada swore that he would not taste any spice, as long as he had not succeeded in unifying Nusantara (the Indonesian archipelago). By referring to this ancient oath of unification, the Palapa satellite series was also identified as the modern means to unify Indonesia.

As the first developing country to operate its own domestic satellite system in the mid seventies, Indonesia has consistently taken the steps necessary for developing its existing geostationary satellite system for multiple services, safeguarding its global orbital allocation on an equitable first come first served basis, and embracing emerging satellite communication systems (including non-geostationary ones) expected to yet emerge from their lingering stage.


The generation of Palapa Satellite had been launched to fulfil the communication line in Indonesia that day by day keeps on increasing. Palapa Satellite becomes foundation continually for communication system in this biggest archipelago country. To make this satellite keep on working longer, high quality is needed. The type of microelectronic technology in this satellite determines the work of Palapa to run its task.

One of the applications is news broadcasting by digital satellite (DSNG). This technology has been developed for five years so that news in voice and video form are able to be broadcasted from one place to another. The development of technology is affected by the advance of satellite. To use DSNG application, TV broadcaster must rent minimum 9 MHz to delay video program or audio stereo with notification for a long term using.

For Broadcasting Satellite Services, Indonesia registered the connection line in the early 1990s to ITU. INDOSTAR-1 is a Broadcasting Satellite Service (BSS) system that has been set up and has run operationally since 1997.

Series A

Two identical satellites were built by Hughes (now Boeing Satellite Systems). Each of the HS-333 weighted 574 kg.

Palapa A1 July 8 1976 Cape Canaveral, Pad LC-17A Delta-2914
Palapa A2 March 3 1977 Cape Canaveral, Pad LC-17A Delta-2914

Series B

Altogether four satellites of the second series were built. They were all of the type Hughes HS-376. When the launch of Palapa B2 failed, a third satellite was ordered. Originally named Palapa B3 and scheduled for STS-61-H, it was finally launched as Palapa B2P. Meanwhile Palapa B2 was retrieved by STS-51-A, refurbished and relaunched later as Palapa B2R.

Palapa B1 June 6 1983 STS-7
Palapa B2 February 3 1984 STS-41-B
Palapa B2P March 20 1987 Cape Canaveral, Pad LC-17B Delta-3920 PAM-D
Palapa B2R April 13 1990 Cape Canaveral, Pad LC-17B Delta-6925-8
Palapa B4 May 13 1992 Cape Canaveral, Pad LC-17B Delta-7925-8

Series C

Two satellites of the HS-601 type were launched in 1996. As C1 had some battery problems, it became an insurance claim and Hughes bought back the satellite. With reduced availability it was then used by several other customers.

Palapa C1 February 1 1996 Cape Canaveral, Pad LC-36B Atlas-2AS
Palapa C2 May 16 1996 Kourou ELA-2 Ariane-44L H10-3


Telkom series

TELKOM-1 Augustus 21 1999 Kourou ELA-2 Ariane 42P Rocket
TELKOM-2 November 2 2005 Kourou ELA-2 Ariane 5 ECA Rocket

Series D

In 2009, Indosat will launch the D series to replace Palapa C2. This US$ 200 million satellite will have more transponder than its predecessors (40 transponder, C2 only has 36). 40 % of its transponder will be used by Indosat for their own purpose while the other 60 % will be rented to others. It will be placed in the same orbit as the C2.

Indosat will use Palapa D for their broadband internet service (IM2) with Ku-band technology (12/14 GHz). In 2006, their total income increase about 12, 3 %. Hopefully, with the new satellite coming up, the company will earn more profit form multimedia, internet, and communication bussiness.

2007, June 29: Indosat Tbk order to Thales Alenia Space Palapa-D, a Spacebus 4000B3, to be built in the Cannes Mandelieu Space Center, France

External links

  • Gunter's Space Page - information on Palapa
  • Palapa A at Boeing Palapa-A

Footnotes and Sources

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