Satellite communications are at the very heart of the notion of a "global village" and constitute continually growing, multibillion dollar, civil and military enterprise deserving recognition. Much fanfare accompanied the first satellite television broadcasts. Yet, as the technology has grown increasingly pervasive, satellites have become an almost invisible part of the cultural landscape. Simultaneously, satellite communication has become a tremendous international commercial success, currently worth around $15 ...
Satellite communications are at the very heart of the notion of a "global village" and constitute continually growing, multibillion dollar, civil and military enterprise deserving recognition. Much fanfare accompanied the first satellite television broadcasts. Yet, as the technology has grown increasingly pervasive, satellites have become an almost invisible part of the cultural landscape. Simultaneously, satellite communication has become a tremendous international commercial success, currently worth around $15 billion dollars per year; it is on the verge of expanding spectacularly in the near future, perhaps to $80 billion per year by the end of the decade. Approximately 60 percent of all overseas communications pass via satellites. More than 200 countries rely on nearly 200 satellites for defense, direct broadcast, navigational, mobile communications, and data transfer via domestic, regional, and global links.
Despite the commercial success of satellite communications, little attention has been paid to its development. This work presents a broad, but systematic survey of the evolution of satellite communications. Included are papers that examine the temporal, geographical, and thematic coverage of the development of satellite communications.
This volume demonstrates the dramatic temporal and geographic breadth and thematic richness of satellite communications history. The narrative, reaches back nearly a half century to the first attempts to communicate via natural and artificial satellites; it extends from the United States and its northern and southern neighbors to the countries of Western and Eastern Europe, to India, Australia, and Asia, and to the rest of the globe.
This work posits three stages of satellite communications development as a framework for rational organization.
The first stage of development, extending from the 1940s into the early 1960s, was distinguished by experiments with passive artificial and natural satellites. Long before the launch of Sputnik, investigators in the United States and Europe attempted to establish long distance communications using the Moon as a passive relay satellite, while others sought to create an artificial ionosphere or to use meteor ionization trails.
The second stage of satellite communications development began in 1958 with the launch of the first communications satellite (SCORE) and the first teletype relay by satellite (Courier 1B). Project Echo followed, launched in 1960, then came Telstar (equipped with an active repeater) and Relay (the first satellite to transmit television worldwide) in 1962, Syncom 2 (the first geosynchronous communications satellite) in 1963, the first operational commercial communications satellite (Intelat I, alias "Early Bird") in 1965, and in 1966 the first operational military communications satellite (IDSCS).
The placement of these satellites in orbit by the United States alone signaled that country's dominance of the field and precipitated a series of highly political negotiations on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean that eventually led to the creation in 1964 of Intelsat (International Telecommunications Satellite organization), an international framework for the growth of satellite communications.
Although United States domination continued throughout the 1960s and 1970s, more and more countries acquired access to communications satellites, especially in Europe, and challenged the U.S. monopoly.
More than ever before, the geopolitics of satellite communications came into its own during the third age of development, as the small club of countries with satellite access grew into a global public enterprise, embracing first the countries of North America and Western Europe, then outward into Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America.
This book presents a broad, but systematic survey of the development of satellite communications. 348 pages with photos and illustration. Hyperlinked index for easy navigation.