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A Beneficial and Striking Success: Diplomatic Spacepower and Communication Satellites in the Early Space Age (1958-1972)

Illustrations © James Vaughan, and used by permission. More of his work can be found here:

By Kenny Grosselin


Communication satellites generally receive short shrift in political histories of the Space Age. This silence, however, underrepresents the strategic role these satellites played during the early years of the U.S. space program (1958-1972). During this period, policy actions taken in the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations abetted the development of communication satellites as a tool of strategic competition by elevating multi-national collaboration – especially with the decolonizing nations across the developing world – over short-term economic gain. Because of these decisions, communication satellites provided the United States with an unglamorous, though immensely practical, means of incorporating all nations into the Space Age. Just seven years after the Soviet Union pioneered orbital spaceflight with the launch of Sputnik, developing nations around the world were investing in U.S. satellite technology, deploying ground stations compatible with U.S. communication satellites, routing their long-distance communication requirements through a U.S. controlled infrastructure, and receiving U.S. radio and television broadcasts over a U.S. sponsored satellite network. Through these mechanisms, communication satellites proved to be the most immediate, pragmatic, commercially important, and strategically relevant element of the early U.S. space program.


Introduction: Unsensational and Overlooked

President Kennedy set the tenor of the 1960s U.S. space program on May 25, 1961. Delivering an address to a joint session of Congress, the president called for the United States to commit to landing an American on the moon by the end of the decade. Space was the “new frontier of human adventure” and spaceflight “a great new American enterprise.”[1] These lofty words enshrined a lunar mission as the most exciting and impressive endeavor humanity could achieve in an age of space exploration. But Kennedy’s lunar ambitions have eclipsed less spectacular, but immensely more practical, elements of his moon speech. Later in his address, President Kennedy also requested $50 million to accelerate the development of U.S. communication satellites. Dedicating a single sentence to this technology, Kennedy noted that “when we have put into space a system that will enable people in remote areas of the Earth to exchange messages, hold conversations, and eventually see television programs, we will have achieved a success as beneficial as it will be striking.”[2]

Communication satellites generally receive short shrift in political histories of the early Space Age.[3] Human spaceflight energizes the imagination. Intercontinental ballistic missiles stoke existential fears. Classified spy satellites stimulate the forbidden thrill of clandestine espionage. Weather satellites promise predictive power over many of nature’s most violent forces. Communication satellites, in contrast, have no comparable sensational associations. Despite world-wide adoption and proliferation, today’s communication satellites are a technology so unassuming as to only be noticed when they malfunction. Yet despite the unspectacular nature of communication satellites, this technology permeated U.S. grand strategy during the early years of the U.S. space program. This article explores the reciprocal relationship between U.S. grand strategy and communication satellites from1958 to1972. In short, policy actions in the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations abetted the development of communication satellites as a tool of strategic competition by prioritizing multi-national collaboration – especially with rapidly decolonizing developing nations – over short-term economic gain. The narrative that emerges from this analysis represents a formative example of diplomatic spacepower and provides a sharp reminder that U.S. space cooperation should not be confined to partner nations with established space programs.

A Practical Application of Orbital Flight

Renowned science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke proposed the concept and advantages of space-based communications in 1945 by showing how an artificial satellite in a 26,199-mile circular orbit would circumnavigate Earth along a trajectory synchronized with the planet’s rotation.[4] Clarke posited that this geosynchronous vantage point could provide an optimal location for relaying radio transmissions for long-distance communication. Others would translate this concept into more concrete proposals. In 1946, the U.S. Army confirmed that radio transmissions would travel through space by bouncing a signal off the moon and capturing its return.[5] In May of that same year the RAND Corporation’s first work of research provided a preliminary assessment of the feasibility of an artificial Earth satellite. Crucially, this report estimated the annual commercial value of satellite communication at $10 billion – an equivalent value of $128 billion today.[6] While orbital flight and space exploration had long captivated the imagination of futurists and science fiction writers, communication satellites offered a tangible and meaningful benefit humanity could derive from the mastery of space.

Modern rocketry was, of course, an inescapable prerequisite to communication satellites. The many setbacks that impeded America’s quest for orbit in the mid-to-late 1950s have been developed elsewhere and will not be repeated here.[7] But while the United States was losing the dramatic race for rocket-powered public prestige to the Soviet Union, less prominent technological advances prepared the way for practical space applications. There can be no denying that the Soviet Union held a distinct advantage in the size and power of their rocket boosters. Sputnik I (1957) and Sputnik II (1957) weighed 185 pounds and 1,121 pounds, respectively, while Explorer I (1958) weighed 30 pounds and Vanguard I (1958) weighed 2.3 pounds.[8] The Soviet space program was also fixated on building toward human spaceflight and space exploration. To that end, Sputnik II carried the first living creature into space – a dog named Laika – and in 1959 the Soviet Union crash landed a spacecraft carrying the hammer-and-sickle flag on the surface of the moon.[9] Still, despite these impressive Soviet accomplishments, the United States held an important advantage in silicon transistors, microprocessors, and miniaturized electronics.[10] Sputnik I and Sputnik II performed limited functions once in orbit while Explorer I and Vanguard I carried sensitive scientific sensors that discovered the Van Allen radiation belt and mapped the Earth’s oblong figure. [11] Because of this technological advantage, an emphasis on satellite utility became an important theme of the early U.S. space program.

U.S. policy complimented this technological advantage by further catalyzing practical applications of orbital flight. Approved in 1958, the Eisenhower administration’s post-Sputnik statement on U.S. space policy emphasized an applied space program that would benefit life on Earth by emphasizing civilian applications like meteorology, navigation, and global communication.[12] National Security Council memorandum 5814/1 presents these programmatic endeavors as a strategic means of recovering international prestige after the spectacular early successes of the Soviet space program. Functional space programs also afforded an opportunity to cooperate with international partners and share the benefits of spaceflight with those populations not yet shrouded behind the iron curtain. Given America’s lead in electronic miniaturization, this strategy afforded the best means through which the United States could compete with the Soviet Union during the initial phases of the so-called space race.

The United States began to employ this advantage for strategic effect in December of 1958 with the launch of Project Satellite Communications by Orbiting Relay Equipment (Project SCORE). Surprised to learn hours before launch that the satellite would broadcast a message from the Secretary of the Army, President Eisenhower intervened to record his own message.[13] Technicians uploaded Eisenhower’s message to SCORE after launch and the satellite subsequently broadcast the president’s message around the globe.

This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space. My message is a simple one: Through this unique means I convey to you and to all mankind, America’s wish for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men everywhere.[14]

The redoubtable Nazi-turned-American rocket engineer Wernher von Braun, who was also a prominent and charismatic public advocate for human spaceflight during this period, lamented the 1950s as a lost decade for U.S. space research and orbital activity.[15] But accomplishments like Project SCORE reveal that this pessimistic assessment ignores several important advances. While the United States lagged the Soviet Union in terms of raw rocket power, it held a crucial lead in other important technologies. Spacepower was more than just the ability to throw mass into orbit; actual utility required advanced computing and electronic miniaturization. Here, America’s lead over the Soviet Union was significant and accelerating. Additionally, the United States held a creative advantage over the Soviet Union. The Soviet space program developed as an offshoot of its ballistic missile program and there is limited evidence of anticipatory planning for practical satellite activity beyond the prestige of large rocket boosters and human spaceflight.[16] The United States, by contrast, had a heritage that embraced the practical applications of satellite activity that dated back to RAND’s 1946 study.[17] This differentiation impeded the speed with which the United States reached orbit but hastened the deployment of satellites that performed meaningful functions. Indeed, the United States initiated satellite programs before a viable space booster was available and by 1960 the United States was pursuing satellites for communications, meteorological study, navigation, and terrain-mapping.[18] These aspects of the early U.S. space program would accelerate the deployment of communication satellites in the following decade.

For the Benefit of All Nations

U.S. policy unlocked the strategic potential of communication satellites in the 1960s. Deliberate communication satellite policy began in November 1960 with a staff report authored for the Senate Aeronautical and Space Sciences committee, which was chaired by then Vice President‑elect Lyndon Johnson. Entitled Policy Planning for Space Telecommunications, the report outlined the utility of communication satellites and actions that could accelerate U.S. leadership in space telecommunications. Most of the report deals with domestic and international electromagnetic frequency allocation, but an important portion addresses communication satellites in the context of Cold War competition. The report notes that free communication is a touchstone of a free society and that communication satellites could be a “potent means for the exchange of ideas.” [19] Furthermore, the report envisioned a calculated role for communication satellites that went beyond the accumulation of economic and military power. If the United States could deploy communication satellites for the benefit of all nations, satellites would be a global instrument in the Cold War struggle for the minds of people around the world. Less than one month before leaving office, President Eisenhower elevated this report to U.S. policy in an official statement on communication satellites. The corresponding press release noted that communication satellites “would bring all nations of the world closer together in peaceful relationships as a product of [the U.S.] program of space exploration.”[20] As part of this policy, the United States would ensure communication satellites were deployed with the goal of global coverage, allowing all nations to participate in the Space Age.

Still, uncertainty in U.S. space policy surrounded the presidential transition of 1961. “Winning in space” was one of President Kennedy’s regular campaign promises – though few concrete specifics or initial commitments accompanied this rhetoric.[21] But a string of perceived geopolitical defeats – most notably Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s successful orbital flight on April 12, 1961 and the failed Bay of Pigs invasion five days later – convinced the Kennedy administration to partially pivot away from Eisenhower’s pragmatic approach to spacepower. Reeling from these events, President Kennedy turned to the U.S. space program to help recapture national pride. In a memorandum dated April 20, 1961, President Kennedy asked Vice President Johnson to report on any space programs – “in which we could win” – that might produce dramatic results and galvanize national pride.[22]

Recommendations from Wernher von Braun and Congressman Thomas Overton Brooks (D-LA) shaped Johnson’s response. As was to be expected given his public advocacy on the topic, von Braun assessed that only human spaceflight could recoup lost prestige. Because the United States trailed in rocket technology, von Braun assessed that immediate victories in human spaceflight were unlikely. In his assessment, U.S. rockets were five to eight years behind their Soviet counterparts. Engaging the Soviet Union in short-term one-upmanship was doomed to fail and would only quicken the loss of American scientific prestige. Instead, the United States should marshal the entirety of its space program around the goal of placing an American on the moon by the end of the decade. All other elements of the U.S. space program should be placed on the “back burner.”[23] Brooks, in contrast, recommended the U.S. space program immediately operationalize the “utility packages” – communication satellites, weather satellites, and navigation satellites.[24] In this area of space technology, Brooks emphasized, the United States held an important edge over the Soviet Union.[25] Communication satellites were of particular importance because “the nation that controls worldwide communications and television will ultimately have that nation’s language become the universal tongue.”[26] Answering the president’s initial request, Johnson delivered a memorandum that blended these two proposals, recommending a short-term focus on practical satellite applications coupled with a long-term effort to surpass the Soviet Union in human spaceflight by landing Americans on the moon.[27] In the short-term, practical achievements would have to substitute for the spectacular.

Johnson’s recommendation formed the basis of the ambitious space program Kennedy proposed to Congress on May 25, 1961. While the ultimate aspiration of the U.S. space program remained landing on and safely returning from the moon, in the meantime, the United States would capitalize on its advantage in microelectronics by focusing on practical applications that allowed any willing partner nation to participate in the Space Age. [28] Communication satellites featured prominently here – remote sensing satellites that detected missile launches, performed overhead surveillance, and collected weather data were too sensitive to share. Communication technology was not. Communication satellites also promised tangible quality-of-life improvements. Across the developing world, long-distance communication lines were unreliable or absent. Where long-distance communication did exist, the infrastructure was controlled by Western European powers – a relic of colonial dominance.[29] According to this policy logic, global satellite communications would advance the independence of the developing world while simultaneously symbolizing U.S. technological prowess, promoting the open exchange of ideas, and broadcasting freedom over the airways via U.S. radio and television signals. In short, communication satellites would become a tool of strategic competition.

Commercial interests were the greatest obstacle to this inclusive approach to communication satellites. If left unchecked, the narrow logic of commercial profits would concentrate communication satellites around the profitable transatlantic links between the continental United States and Western Europe. In this scenario, the Soviet Union could be expected to exploit the appearance that U.S. communication satellites were exclusively enriching private interests of the developed west.[30] Sensitive to these concerns, President Kennedy issued a formal statement of U.S. satellite communication policy on July 24, 1961, which reaffirmed a commitment to deploying communication satellites for “global benefit.”[31] Under this policy, the United States would ensure affordable service even in remote areas where coverage was unprofitable. This policy, in turn, made global coverage, rather than commercial profits, a top priority. Finally, the president’s policy invited all nations to join the United States and participate in the development of the first global communication system.

The Kennedy administration worked with Congress to solidify its global satellite communication strategy through legislative action. From 1961 to 1962, Congress debated more than a dozen bills related to satellite communication policy.[32] The danger of monopoly control emerged as a pivotal issue. At the time, AT&T enjoyed a near perfect monopoly over U.S. long-distance communications and was investing heavily in communication satellites. Many in Congress feared unilateral private control would jeopardize the multi-national potential of communication satellites. Making this concern clear, the head of the United States Information Agency testified in front of Congress that his agency could not afford to use satellites for broadcasting if AT&T charges were comparable to its expensive overseas cable prices.[33] Moreover, space boosters were still the exclusive purview of the military and NASA; a private company could build a communication satellite, but public funds and equipment were still required to reach orbit. To balance these competing concerns, the Kennedy administration submitted compromise legislation that provided for a commercial consortium that could prevent ownership from coalescing around a single private entity. Congress embraced this compromise, and the 1962 Communications Satellite Act established the Communications Satellite Corporation (Comsat), a commercial company chartered by Congressional legislation to pursue the goal of a global satellite communication network. The law also contained prominent antitrust provisions. The President would appoint 3 of the 15 board of directors while 6 others would represent public shareholders.[34] Senator Albert Gore Sr. (D-TN) testified that the bill was “a great boon … to the capacity of the United State to project its people, its way of life, its programs and policies to the one-third uncommitted part of the world and acquire their loyalty and friendship.”[35]

The act also streamlined international cooperation. Half of all shares were reserved for international commercial partners and the State Department facilitated international negotiations to meet this goal. A series of diplomatic engagements helped establish the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (Intelsat) in 1964, a multi-national organization initially comprised of 46 nations dedicated to deploying a global network of communication satellites.[36] Under its charter, Intelsat would design a global satellite communication network, which included securing terrestrial connections between satellite terminals and the users.[37] Comsat served as the U.S. representative to Intelsat and would build, manage, and operate the space segment of the project. Together, Comsat and Intelsat fulfilled the administration’s goal of U.S. leadership of a global communication satellite endeavor.

Intelsat immediately proved capable of propelling international collaboration. When Comsat was established, AT&T, the largest single commercial member of Comsat, had invested heavily in medium altitude satellite technology. Conversely, Hughes Aircraft Company had invested in a geosynchronous design based on Clarke’s 1946 proposal. While a geosynchronous satellite would stay in a relatively fixed location in the sky by matching Earth’s rotation, the AT&T design would deploy satellites in constant motion relative to terrestrial users. Because of these tradeoffs, AT&T’s design enabled higher data rates but also required complex and expensive ground antennas to perform the satellite tracking. Thus, the international partners representing the developing nations preferred the geosynchronous design.[38] Even though AT&T was the preeminent provider of long-distance communication and a prominent stakeholder in Comsat, Comsat leadership opted for the geosynchronous design in deference to the wishes of the developing nations. This crucial early decision made satellite antenna technology accessible and affordable across the developing world.

Meanwhile, satellite communication technology accelerated during the early 1960s. NASA launched four experimental communication satellites from 1962-1963. The first was Telstar, humanity’s first active communication satellite. Unlike SCORE (which could only retransmit a stored message), Telstar could actively relay a live signal between two ground stations. Privately developed by Bell Telephone Laboratories for AT&T, Telstar broadcast television signals across the Atlantic Ocean by relaying a signal between Andover, Maine and Brittany, France.[39] The inaugural Telstar television broadcast was a President Kennedy press conference.[40] Subsequent experiments would demonstrate increased power and data throughput. NASA’s initial research into communication satellites led to the launch of Syncom-2, the first geosynchronous satellite, which demonstrated voice, teletype, data, and television transmissions across the Atlantic. These tests, and the experimental follow-on Syncom-3, validated that commercial applications of communication satellites were viable alternatives to terrestrial long-distance communication.

Comsat deployed the first operational communication satellite on behalf of Intelsat in 1965. Designated Intelsat I, but nicknamed Early Bird, it had 240 two-voice channels. To add context to that figure, the total number of terrestrial transatlantic telephone circuits in 1965 was 317, deployed at an average cost of $970,000 per circuit.[41] Intelsat I cost $7 million to develop, meaning that its 240 voice channels cost just $22,000 per circuit – a 75% increase in capacity at only 2% the existing average cost.[42] Global coverage was achieved in 1968 when Intelsat III launched with 1,200 voice circuits and four color television channels.[43] Just nine years after the establishment of Comsat, commercial communication satellites offered global coverage while increasing long-distance communication capacity by a factor of four. Clarke’s 1945 vision had become a reality.

Strategic Collaboration

A collaborative approach to space telecommunications invigorated global communications. On August 23, 1963, President Kennedy used a communication satellite to call the Prime Minister of Nigeria, Sir Abubakar Rafawa Balewa.[44] During this conversation, President Kennedy expressed his hope that communication satellites would enable much closer communication between the United States and the countries of Africa.

Such sentiments were more than diplomatic platitudes. By leveraging a geosynchronous design, Comcast ensured ground antennas were affordable for developing nations. By reserving 50% of Comcast shares for international investors, the Commercial Satellite Act created a venue for foreign investment. And by championing the Intelsat multi-national consortium, the United States government provided an opportunity for other nations to collaborate on future designs and ensure the architecture satisfied their national needs. Starting in 1964 and continuing well into the 1970s, international communications grew at a rate of 20% per year.[45] By 1971, developing nations comprised 65% Intelsat membership and underwrote 16% of all Intelsat funding.[46] Communication satellites had become an affordable and meaningful way for developing countries to participate in the Space Age.

While the United States embraced communication satellites as a tool of strategic competition, the Soviet Union failed to recognize their potential. A declassified CIA report from the period notes a long running Soviet ambivalence to communication satellites.[47] Unlike the U.S. interests in transatlantic and transpacific communication, the Soviet bloc’s internal lines of communication did not justify communication satellites on strictly economic or military terms. Moreover, the Soviet Union drastically underestimated the diplomatic returns of communication satellites. After consistently refusing all proposed communication satellite collaborations, the Soviet Union launched its first communication satellite, Molniya-1, in April 1965, though operational capability was not achieved until 1967-1968 when the appropriate ground stations were constructed. Deployed nine years after SCORE and six years after the first U.S. geosynchronous satellite, Molniya‑1’s highly-elliptical orbit provided only intermittent coverage of northern Eurasian latitudes. [48] This constraint limited the system’s utility beyond Soviet territory.

The strategic returns of U.S. space telecommunications are glaring when contrasted with the Soviet Union’s Molniya communication program. By the time the first Soviet communication satellite was launched, U.S. satellites had already broadcast the 1964 Tokyo Olympics around the world. By the time Molniya-1 was providing operational connectivity over Soviet Union territory, the Intelsat consortium had achieved worldwide coverage on behalf of its multi-national partners. Developing nations around the world were investing in U.S. satellite technology, deploying ground stations compatible with U.S. systems, routing their long-distance communication requirements through a U.S. controlled infrastructure, and receiving U.S. radio and television broadcasts over the Intelsat network. Just seven years after it pioneered orbital spaceflight with the launch of Sputnik, the Soviet Union was a bystander to the first truly global application of space technology.[49]

Fittingly, the Apollo 11 lunar landing offers one of the most dramatic demonstrations of the strategic returns of communication satellites. When the historic Apollo 11 moon landing occurred on July 20, 1969, 528 million people around the world watched a live television broadcast of the mission.[50] Because the moon was over the Pacific Ocean at the time, NASA relied on Intelsat’s communication satellites to broadcast the video feed from an Australian ground station to Houston and around the world. [51] In this capacity communication satellites made the Apollo 11 mission a global event and fulfilled their original strategic promise – broadcasting the triumphs of the American ideology to a global audience. NASA landed on the moon, but Intelsat’s global network of communication satellites shared the event around the world.

Conclusion: A Striking and Beneficial Success

Leveraging space technology to nurture international prestige was a central component of the early Space Age. Policymakers on both sides of the Cold War attempted to use orbital achievements to showcase ideological superiority. But for technological achievements to be effective tools of great power competition they must convey some functional utility or engender aspirational sentiments of imitation. Without these qualities, successful “moonshots” can swiftly reduce to spectacular stunts. Sputnik I and Sputnik II were impressive accomplishments, but they failed to demonstrate a practicality that would sway other nations toward Soviet allegiance. The success of the Apollo program is among the most impressive scientific accomplishments in human history. It was an unequivocal demonstration of U.S. technological supremacy, but in 1969 what developing country could aspire to human spaceflight and lunar exploration in the near, or even distant, future?

Communication satellites provided U.S. spacepower with an unspectacular – though immensely practical – means of incorporating all willing collaborators into the Space Age. While orbital rocket boosters and human spaceflight were out of reach to all but the most developed nations during most of the 20th century, deliberate U.S. policy actions ensured the infrastructure required to benefit from communication satellites was accessible to any partner nation. Maybe most important of all, in elevating this technology through multi-national collaboration, U.S. diplomatic spacepower helped solidify the free exchange of ideas and open global communication as prominent components of international relations. Through these mechanisms, unspectacular communication satellites proved to be the most immediate, pragmatic, commercially important, and strategically relevant element of the early U.S. space program.

Major Kenny Grosselin, USSF, is currently serving in the Secretary of Defense Strategic Thinkers Program. This paper represents solely the author’s views and do not necessarily represent the official policy or position of any Department or Agency of the U.S. Government. If you have a different perspective, we’d like to hear from you.



30, 2010.

  1. John F. Kennedy, “Urgent National Needs,” (speech, Washington DC, May 25, 1961),
  2. Kennedy, “Urgent National Needs,” 1961.
  3. David Whalen offers the most prominent exception to this trend. For example, see “Billion Dollar Technology: A Short Historical Overview of the Origins of Communications Satellite Technology,” (1997) and “Communication Satellites: making the Global Village Possible” (2010).
  4. Arthur C. Clarke, “Extra-terrestrial Relays: Can Rocket Stations Give World-wide Radio Coverage?” Wireless World Vol LI, No. 10 (1945): 305-308.
  5. Andrew Butrica, To See the Unseen: A History of Planetary Radar Astronomy, NASA: Washington DC, 1996.
  6. This estimate was remarkedly prescient. In 2018, the global satellite communication industry generated $126 billion in revenue. For more information, see Bryce Space Technology, “2019 State of the Satellite Industry Report,” Satellite Industry Association 22nd Edition, May 2019, accessed on 16 April 2020.
  7. For example, see Walter A. McDougall, … The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985).
  8. McDougall, … The Heavens and the Earth, 122, 150, 168.
  9. Laika died in orbit from stress and dehydration. The press referred to Sputnik II as Muttnik and Poochnik. See Brinkley, American Moonshot, 137 and McDougall, … The Heavens and the Earth, 150.
  10. McDougall, … The Heavens and the Earth, 181.
  11. Ibid, 108.
  12. National Security Council Report. NSC 5814/1. “Statement of Preliminary U.S. Policy on Outer Space.” 18 August 1958. Department of State Office of the Historian. Retrieved from
  13. Advanced Research Projects Agency. The Advanced Research Project Agency 1958-1974. Government Report AD-A154 363. Richard J. Barber Associates Inc: Washington DC, 1975. Retrieved from
  14. Eisenhower, Dwight D. Containing the Public Messages, Speeches, and Statements of the President: January 1 to December 31, 1958. Public Papers of the President of the United States (Office of the Federal Registry: Washington DC, 1960). Retrieved from
  15. Brinkley, American Moonshot, 128.
  16. Lyndon B. Johnson, “Evaluation of Space Program,” Vice President Memorandum for the President, 28 April 1961,
  17. Preliminary Design of an Experimental World-Circling Spaceship, Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 1946.
  18. Overton Brooks, “Recommendations re the National Space Program,” Memorandum to the Honorable Lyndon B. Johnson, 4 May 1961,
  19. Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, Policy Planning for Space Telecommunications, 86th Cong., 2nd sess., 9 November 1960,
  20. Dwight D. Eisenhower, White House Press Secretary, “Statement by the President,” December 30, 1960. In Exploring the Unknown: Selected Documents in the History of the U.S. Civil Space Program, Vol 3, Edited by John M. Logsdon.
  21. Brinkley, American Moonshot, 188.
  22. John F. Kennedy, “Overall Survey of Where we Stand in Space,” Memorandum for the Vice President, 20 April 1961,
  23. Wernher von Braun, Memorandum to the Vice President of the United States, 29 April 1961.
  24. Overton Brooks, “Recommendations re the National Space Program,” Memorandum to the Honorable Lyndon B. Johnson, 4 May 1961,
  25. Lyndon B. Johnson, “Evaluation of Space Program,” Vice President Memorandum for the President, 28 April 1961,
  26. Ibid.
  27. Lyndon B. Johnson, “Evaluation of Space Program,” Vice President Memorandum for the President, 28 April 1961,
  28. John F. Kennedy, “Urgent National Needs,” (speech, Washington DC, May 25, 1961),
  29. David J. Whalen, “Billion Dollar Technology: A Short Historical Overview of the Origins of Communications Satellite Technology, 1945-1965,” in Beyond the Ionosphere: Fifty Years of Satellite Communication, ed. Andrew J. Butrica (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1997), 95-131; John Krige, Ashok Maharaj, and Angela Long Callahan, NASA in the World: Fifty Years of International Collaboration in Space (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2013).
  30. Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences, Policy Planning for Space Telecommunications, 120.
  31. John F. Kennedy, “The United States Communication Satellite Program ‘For Global Benefit’: Statement by the President.” (press release, Washington DC, July 24, 1961), John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
  32. Hugh R. Slotten, “Satellite Communications, Globalization, and the Cold War,” Technology and Culture 43, no. 2 (2002): 315-350.
  33. Ibid, 343.
  34. Ibid, 344.
  35. Ibid, 343.
  36. John Kringe, Angelina Callahan, and Ashok Maharaj, NASA in the World: Fifty Years of International Collaboration in Space, 56.
  37. Ibid, 76.
  38. Slotten, “Satellite Communications, Globalization, and the Cold War,” 337-341.
  39. NASA History, “July 12, 1962: The Day Information Went Global,” 9 July 2012,
  40. Other broadcast images included French singer Yves Montand, an American flag blowing in the breeze, and a still image of Mount Rushmore. See NASA History, “July 12, 1962”.
  41. David J. Whalen, Billion Dollar Technology, 20.
  42. To emphasize this technological miracle (and draw interest in its commercial applications), Intelsat hosted a one-hour television show from 35 locations across the United States and Europe. The satellite television extravaganza was broadcast live in Europe and the United States. The logistics of this production were not possible prior to communication satellites. See William B. Liddicoet, “Communications Satellites,” Air University Review Vol xvi, No. 6, 1965.
  43. Ibid.
  44. John F. Kennedy and Sir Abubakar Rafawa Balewa, “Conversation with the Prime Minister of Nigeria by means of the Syncom Communications Satellite,” 23 August 1963, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, JFKWHA-211-003,
  45. Whalen, “Billion Dollar Technology.”
  46. Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gabon, Greece, Guatemala, India, Indonesia, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritania, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of China, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Syrian Arab Republic, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United Republic of Cameroon, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America, Vatican City, Venezuela, Viet Nam, Yemen, Yugoslavia, Zaire, and Zambia. See Agreement relating to the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization “Intelsat,” United Nations Treaty Series No. 19677 (Washington DC, 20 August 1971), retrieved from
  47. Office of Scientific Intelligence, “Preliminary Analysis of the First Successful Soviet Communication Satellite,” Central Intelligence Agency, declassified on 19 December, 2003. Retrieved from
  48. Ibid.
  49. The Soviet Union established Intersputnik International Organization of Space Communications (referred to as Intersputnik) in 1971 as a response to the success of Intelsat. In addition to the Soviet Union, founding members included Poland, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Mongolia, and Cuba.
  50. Brinkley, American Moonshot, 459.
  51. David J. Whalen, “Communication Satellites: Making the Global Village Possible,” Communication Satellites Short History. NASA: Washington DC, November 30, 2010, retrieved from


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