The commissioning of the Satellite Communications Earth Station, Kuantan, Pahang, heralds Malaysia’s entry into the Space Age. Built on a 60 acre site on a small plateau overlooking the scenic beaches of the East Coast of West Malaysia, the Station will link Malaysia via the Indian Ocean Intelsat III Satellite, initially with India, Indonesia, United Kingdom, East and West Pakistan, Japan and Australia. These links will provide high quality overseas telephone, telegraph and telex circuits which are vital to the development of Malaysia’s trade and economy. The Earth Station is also equipped to relay live television programmes between Malaysia and these countries. The total cost of the Earth Station Project, including land and buildings amounts to M$9 million (US$3 million) and the successful principal contractor for the Antenna and Electronic Equipment was Mitsubishi Shoji Kaisha Ltd. of Japan.

The key components of the Station are the 97 foot diameter fully steerable antenna, the supersensitive helium refrigerated low noise receivers and the high-power microwave transmitters. The moving structure of the antenna weighs 300 tons, yet the antenna must aim at the satellite 22,300 miles up in the sky with an accuracy better than one minute of an arc. The big antenna must maintain the accuracy of its reflecting surface to within 1.2 millimeter in order to concentrate the radiated microwave power towards the satellite equivalent to 1000 million watts. The design and construction of the Station indeed stretches modern technology to its limits.

Kuantan is chosen as the site of the Earth Station on account of its complete freedom from interference from existing terrestrial microwave stations. In addition, Kuantan has reasonable amenities for staff and is linked back to Kuala Lumpur by a high quality microwave system.

Satellite communication is organized on a global basis through the International Telecommunications Satellite Consortium or INTELSAT. This Consortium now has about 71 Member Countries. Malaysia is the 50th Member with a capital share of approximately 0.25%, Malaysia is represented on the governing body, the Interim Communications Satellite Committee (ITSC) through a Joint Representative in partnership with Thailand, Singapore, India, Ceylon, Philippines and New Zealand. The Consortium is responsible for purchasing, launching and maintaining the satellites in the sky. The establishment and operation of the earth stations however, are entirely the responsibility of the countries concerned.

Malaysia’s Earth Satellite Station is not a turn-key project. The specifications and the system engineering designs were prepared by Malaysian Telecommunication Engineers who have also supervised the installation, testing and completion of this project. This is indeed an achievement of which Malaysia is justifiably proud.

Commemorative postage stamps of 15 cents and 30 cents denominations will be issued to mark the commissioning of the Satellite Communications Earth Station at Kuantan, Pahang.