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Satellite communication systems are being proposed with ever-increasing frequency as integral components of many future commercial, military, and space programs. Thus, many people in all levels of engineering, management, government, and military occupations are being called upon to deliver judgments on this new mode of communications. However, there are sometimes difficulties in developing these judgments, because even gross design of satellite communication systems requires simultaneous manipulation of a half dozen or more parameters. This paper has been compiled as a computational aid for designers and reviewers of communication systems employing earth satellites as relays. Pertinent design equations are introduced and discussed briefly, with special emphasis placed on the limitations of the equations and the ranges of the parameters. Many of the computational aids, such as charts and nomographs, that are applicable to the gross design of satellite communication systems are presented. The utility of these computational aids is demonstrated in the solutions of some simple satellite communication system design and analysis problems. This paper is intended to be of practical usefulness; there is no suggestion that the theory of communications or satellites is probed in depth or detail.