Low earth orbit (LEO) satellite communication systems perform frequent intersatellite handovers for both foxed and mobile users. This paper proposes a satellite selection scheme for new/handover call requests when two or more satellites can be seen simultaneously. Each satellite in this scheme has a non-uniform transmitter antenna gain according to its relative position inside the coverage area. The antenna gain is proportional to the residual distance in the satellite's direction of movement and it compensates for the difference in path losses between satellite links. The residual distance distribution of the selected satellite and the mean number of intersatellite handovers during a call connection are calculated and compared with the results based on conventional methods. The proposed scheme can reduce the intersatellite handover call attempt rate without increasing system load and terminal complexity. Furthermore, this scheme can be extended to reduce both intersatellite and interbeam handover call attempt rates in a multiple spot beam environment. Especially, the average number of intersatellite and interbeam handovers during a call can be significantly reduced by using a hybrid algorithm with the proposed non-uniform power transmission scheme. (C) 1998 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.