Several accounts of the establishment of Intelsat have tended to present Britain, and the British Post Office specifically, as a villain, desiring to obstruct the early development of a satellite system to secure an extra lease on life for its large investments in transoceanic telephone cables.2 By concentrating on the supposed intentions of the Post Office, such accounts have tended to ignore the role of other government departments in the formulation of British policy. Moreover, while identifying the foreign policy-oriented nature of the Kennedy administration's satellite communications goals, the literature on Intelsat has not looked in any detail at the parts played by overseas foreign ministries within the overall course of the intergovernmental negotiations that produced Intelsat.
This chapter provides a fuller picture of British government thinking by concentrating on the role of the British Foreign Office in the preliminary phase of the exploratory intergovernmental discussions that occurred during 1962. This phase preceded both the formation of the European Conference on Satellite Communications (CETS, the French acronym) in 1963 and the formal multilateral negotiations that began at the start of 1964 and led to the Intelsat Interim Agreements of mid-1964.3
Throughout 1962, although British officials were aware of the potential threat that an American satellite system posed for British and Commonwealth cable interests, their desire to protect those interests did not equate automatically with a desire to frustrate the early development of satellite communications. British officials realized from the outset that satellites and cables would play complementary roles within the overall system of international communications. In fact, rather than wanting to stall satellite communications, many in Britain, both in and out of government, believed that Britain should construct its own satellite system in collaboration with the Commonwealth and Europe. This  system would have been both separate from and competitive with a U.S.-initiated system. Foreign Office officials, however, considered that British interests would be better served if Britain were to cooperate fully with the United States in constructing a single world satellite system in which as many countries as possible were represented. It was inevitable that a single system would be led by the United States in its early years. Nonetheless, Britain's cable interests could still be safeguarded from within that system. That safeguard could be achieved if Britain insisted on taking an active role in the system's design and operation, thereby ensuring that it fully met the requirements of Britain and the Commonwealth, as well as Western Europe and the rest of the world.
By the early 1960s, Britain had long held a prominent and leading position in international telecommunications.4 After World War II, Britain maintained this position within the framework of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Partnership, established under the terms of the Commonwealth Telegraphs Agreement of 1948.5 During the early 1960s, the Commonwealth accounted for about 20 percent of the world's total intercontinental telecommunications traffic, with the United Kingdom alone accounting for 10 percent. This strong position was based on an extensive network of cable and radio facilities. These facilities were set to be extensively modernized through the 1960s with the installation, in successive stages, of a comprehensive system of high-capacity repeatered submarine telephone cables, which were a recent innovation first introduced in the mid-1950s. Spanning both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and connecting together each of the major Commonwealth countries, the new network was expected to meet Commonwealth traffic growth into the 1970s.6 The overall Commonwealth network, comprising the international communications facilities of each member country, was coordinated by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Board, through which each party to the 1948 Agreement was required to consult with its partners before extending or adding to its part of the network.
By 1960, several British government departments, including the Post Office and the armed forces, had expressed an interest in the practical and commercial potential of communication by satellite. As yet, however, the whole subject was ringed with various technical and commercial uncertainties. Very little experimentation had been done with actual satellites, even in the United States, and the commercial feasibility of satellite communications had yet to be demonstrated practically. Nevertheless, the Post Office, responsible  for Britain's commercial telecommunications operations, realized that the U.S. lead in space and satellite technology, if translated into a U.S. monopoly over commercial satellite communications operations, could become a threat to the commercial viability of the Commonwealth network.7 Despite this concern, the Post Office did not expect that satellites would ever wholly replace cables. Rather, it expected that the two media would have "complementary" roles within the overall system of international telecommunications.8
Mindful of the various uncertainties, the British authorities were keen to stay abreast of U.S. technical developments and, wherever possible, to become associated with U.S. experimental programs. British officials solicited technical discussions with their counterparts in the U.S. government. As a result, a joint civil-military mission headed by Major General Leslie de Malapert Thuillier of the Cabinet Office traveled to the United States during October and November 1960. During this visit, NASA officials invited the Post Office to participate in NASA's program of satellite communications experiments.9 A memorandum of understanding was signed the following February, thereby laying the groundwork for Post Office involvement in NASA's experimental active satellite program, Relay. Later, following an agreement between NASA and AT&T, the Post Office also agreed to participate in the trials of AT&T's own experimental satellite project, Telstar.10
As its contribution to the Relay and Telstar tests, the Post Office undertook to design and construct an experimental ground station in Britain. Following extensive surveys of the southwest of England, a site was chosen at Goonhilly Downs on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall.11 The United States had built a large aperture horn antenna at Andover, Maine, which was protected from heavy local winter snows by a radome. The Goonhilly antenna, by contrast, took the form of an uncovered steerable eighty-five-foot-diameter (twenty-six-meter-diameter) paraboloid dish constructed to withstand gales rather than snow. Designed by Husband and Co. of Sheffield, Goonhilly benefited greatly from that company's earlier experience with the 250-foot (seventy-six-meter) Jodrell Bank radio telescope. Although initially constructed for experimental tests with Telstar and Relay, the Goonhilly antenna was intended to be compatible with a range of satellite designs and orbits and so could serve a future operational system. After its completion in mid-1962,  Goonhilly's construction was believed to have cost only a fifth of the price of the U.S. station at Andover.12 British officials were hopeful that British industry would be able to sell and build similar stations around the world for use with an eventual commercial system.
On 24 July 1961, President Kennedy issued an invitation to the nations of the world "to participate in a communication satellite system, in the interest of world peace and a close brotherhood among peoples throughout the world."13 He had adopted the goal of an international satellite communications system, in part at least, as a means by which to restore and maintain U.S. technological prestige in the wake of the recent space successes of the Soviet Union.14 Soon afterwards, U.S. officials explained their view that there should be a single global satellite system offering nondiscriminatory access to all countries. Only one such system could be financially viable, they claimed, because rival competing systems almost certainly would cause each and every system to suffer a financial loss. However, they did not make clear the form that they intended international participation to take. There was thus some suspicion that the United States intended to build, launch, and control a system entirely by itself with other nations' participation being limited solely to the role of users of the system, thereby cementing a U.S. monopoly.
Kennedy's invitation focused British thinking. Britain would have to act quickly to forestall the perceived U.S. threat to the Commonwealth network. Ideally, Britain would need to act before the Unites States had taken its own planning to the point where that country was ready to initiate concrete action. Before it could initiate any action of its own, however, the British government was bound to consider the interests of its Commonwealth telecommunications partners and to consult with them accordingly. For this purpose, a Commonwealth Satellite Communications Conference was arranged to be held in London in the spring of 1962.15
The Post Office had the primary responsibility for civil telecommunications, and it had the task of coordinating the details and agenda for the Commonwealth Conference. The views of other interested government departments had to be taken into account when determining British goals and policy. To achieve this, an interdepartmental working party was established at the beginning of 1962 under the chairmanship of Sir Robert Harvey, the Post Office Deputy Director General.
In addition to the Post Office, two other departments took a special interest in satellite communications--namely, the Ministry of Aviation and the Foreign Office. The individual positions that these three took into the working party stemmed from a number of different considerations and criteria, although there was considerable overlap among at least some of their specific goals.
The Ministry of Aviation's interest in satellite communications arose from its role as the department responsible for Britain's contribution to the European Launcher Development Organization (ELDO). In this capacity, it intended to advance the interests of both ELDO and the British aerospace industry.
ELDO itself was in large part a product of the British government's desire to foster closer political ties to the nations of Western Europe, especially those of the Common Market.16 Its origins lay with the cancellation of Britain's Blue Streak missile project in 1960, when the possibility was raised of continuing the development of the basic rocket, stripped of its specifically military aspects, to produce a satellite launcher.17 The only justification that British officials could find for proceeding with this expensive project, rather than relying on U.S.-built launchers, was that an independent British launcher could be used to launch commercial communications satellites. This reasoning reflected a belief, widespread in both government and industry, that while the United States would be willing to make launchers available to other countries for scientific satellites, and to Britain for military satellites, they would be unwilling to launch foreign communications satellites and thereby prevent the emergence of commercial competition with a U.S.-owned system.18
Subsequently, Blue Streak was enlisted in Britain's attempts to improve its relations with Western Europe. In fact, by the end of 1960, the Cabinet had determined that the development of Blue Streak should be continued only within the context of European collaboration, and this option was pursued.19
The commercial potential of satellite communications was still regarded as the most significant role for the actual launcher. The Minister of Aviation, Peter Thorneycroft, stressed this potential as he toured Commonwealth and European capitals in search of support for a collaborative project. Commonwealth countries expressed little interest, however, leading Thorneycroft to concentrate his efforts within Europe.20 After a protracted period of negotiation, those efforts led to the establishment of ELDO, whose Convention was opened for signature early in 1962.21
ELDO's initial program did not include any plans for a complementary program of satellite communications research. This absence reflected British and French Treasury opposition, along with the objections of the British Post Office, which was concerned by the likely complications that a European satellite program would introduce into the existing Commonwealth partnership. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Aviation retained its interest in satellite communications and was intent on using a European launcher to launch satellites in the later stages of whatever international system was established. The Ministry of  Aviation's officials expressed doubt that ELDO would be allowed a role in a U.S.-led system. For this reason, they expressed a strong preference for a separate Commonwealth-European satellite system within which ELDO could be given a guaranteed place. If desired, the operation of this separate system could then be coordinated with its U.S. counterpart such that both would effectively become subsystems within an overall world system.
The Post Office position derived from an interaction between its membership in the Commonwealth Telecommunications Partnership and its statutory obligation to conduct its operations according to strictly commercial criteria. Initially, the Post Office favored the establishment of an independent Commonwealth-European satellite system, because it believed that the design of a U.S. system would not adequately meet Commonwealth requirements. The Post Office was aware that U.S. organizations, including AT&T, wanted to establish a satellite system at the earliest possible opportunity and that proposals had been made for low-altitude systems using as many as 50 satellites in random polar or inclined orbits.22 The Post Office saw such a system as best serving the needs of the Northern Hemisphere and the profitable transatlantic telecommunications routes. It did not believe that such systems would provide the broad global coverage that was necessary to meet fully the needs of traffic among the Commonwealth countries, which were widely dispersed over both hemispheres.
Both the Post Office and the Ministry of Aviation had made studies of possible satellite systems. Each had concluded that the broadest coverage would be best provided by a system of position-controlled, as distinct from randomly orbiting, satellites in medium-altitude equatorial orbits.23 Launching such a system would be well within the expected capabilities of the ELDO launcher. However, such orbits could be best reached using launch sites on the equator, and for this reason, the studies had raised considerable doubt about the suitability of the Australian Woomera launch site, from where the ELDO rocket would be fired initially.
The Post Office realized that the U.S. lead in developing both launchers and satellites meant that the first commercial satellite communications system to be orbited would almost inevitably be U.S. in origin. Despite this, its studies had suggested that traffic growth would be such as to allow a second system to be established profitably in the mid-1970s. The Post Office believed, therefore, that its participation in a U.S. initial system should be minimal and take the form of a lease of circuits rather than a share of ownership, while Britain and Europe built up their capability to construct an independent second system.24
The obligation to fulfill its purposes according to commercial criteria had specific consequences for the Post Office's views concerning the procurement of equipment for  the second system. The assessment that a second system could be profitable depended on a number of assumptions, one of which was that its costs should include only the cost of purchasing launchers and not the full cost of developing the European launcher.25 Moreover, the Post Office wanted to insist that the European launcher would be used only so long as its purchase cost was no more than that for an equivalent U.S.-built launcher--a condition that the Post Office extended to all forms of relevant equipment.26
Officials within the Foreign Office took a wholly different approach to that of their colleagues in the Post Office and the Ministry of Aviation. While the Post Office had approached the matter from the perspective of a commercial telecommunications organization, and the Ministry of Aviation from the standpoint of the British and European aerospace industries, Foreign Office officials adopted a much broader view. Alongside the technical and commercial issues, they recognized many political problems with potentially conflicting implications for Britain's relations with the Commonwealth, Europe, and the United States. For the Foreign Office, it was as important to resolve and reconcile these problems as it was to secure a guaranteed and prominent role for British and European industry in the construction of a satellite system.
Foreign Office officials understood the importance with which their American counterparts viewed the foreign policy aspects of satellite communications and their desire for a prestigious technological coup within the context of the Cold War. They realized that if Britain was to build a separate and competing satellite system of its own, it would effectively be rejecting U.S. foreign policy goals. As the leading ally of the United States, Britain should look to supporting those goals and should cooperate fully with the United States from the outset. This did not mean that Britain should follow the United States blindly and forego its own industrial and communications interests. Rather, Britain should seek to temper any threat to its interests from within the single world system, by influencing the system's design and operation in such a way as to accommodate those interests. It could also further both its own and U.S. goals by persuading the European and Commonwealth countries that they, too, should join the single world system. If the latter nations were to accept similar policy goals to Britain, then all would have a stronger bargaining position if they were to enter negotiations with the United States as a bloc. It was important, therefore, that Britain should be prepared to show decisive leadership to both the Commonwealth and Western Europe. For the Foreign Office, in the words of an internal memorandum, the establishment of a global satellite system was a "major exercise in international cooperation" in which:
For the immediate future, however, the Foreign Office needed first to get its views accepted by the British government itself. Only then would it have the authority to begin to influence Commonwealth and European opinion. The first step in this process was to persuade the officials of other British departments--a task pursued within the interdepartmental working party established to determine British policy in advance of the forthcoming Commonwealth Conference.
The working party first met in January 1962. At that time, the thinking of officials in Whitehall was dominated largely by the concept of an independent Commonwealth-European satellite system. This concept also was reflected in the working party. Consistent with the positions outlined above, the Post Office and the Ministry of Aviation favored an independent system.28 Only the Foreign Office representative, Ronald C. Hope-Jones, offered any significant support for a single system.
Hope-Jones offered a number of arguments against an independent system.29 He argued that a second satellite system would be unlikely to succeed because countries that built ground stations for the U.S. initial system would be unlikely to duplicate their investment with a second station to use with British satellites. Moreover, the Post Office's favorable assessment of a second system's commercial viability had depended heavily on the assumption that it would take 50 percent of the profitable transatlantic traffic.30 In its turn, this assumption depended heavily on U.S. goodwill toward the second system--a questionable assumption when the second system inevitably would undermine the profitability of the first. With regard to a U.S. system meeting Commonwealth requirements, Hope-Jones saw no reason why the United States would not want to configure it to meet the needs of the Commonwealth and others. There was some indication that U.S.  planners already had appreciated British views on the desirability of the equatorial orbit. If this was so, an American system also might use that orbit, in which case a second system would be largely a duplication of the first.
Hope-Jones successfully persuaded the Post Office to accept that a single system would be preferable to having two or more competing satellite systems in existence. With the Post Office having shifted its ground, the overall balance of opinion within the working party shifted similarly. Consequently, the British delegation to the Commonwealth Conference was briefed to encourage Commonwealth acceptance for the desirability of broad international cooperation with the United States, involving both the Commonwealth and Europe. At the same time, the conference should be encouraged to endorse further exploratory talks with Europe and with the United States. British ministers were not yet ready to rule out the possibility of a separate British satellite system, however. The Minister of Aviation, among others, was concerned that whatever satellite system emerged should provide a guaranteed role for the ELDO launcher. Thus, while ministers endorsed the official brief for the British delegation, they did not want to settle final policy until after the full round of exploratory talks. Only then, with a clearer idea of foreign intentions, would they feel ready to decide where the balance of Britain's best interests lay.
The Commonwealth Conference met in London from 28 March to 13 April 1962. It concluded that satellite communications were technically feasible, but that there was still much uncertainty regarding the bases for detailed system design and economic estimates. Nevertheless, the conference felt that a commercial satellite system should serve as many countries as was possible and that "the ideal arrangements would be for the Commonwealth to play a full part in a broadly based system of satellite communications, rather than become wholly dependent on the United States, or alternately seek to go it alone in competition with the United States."31 Thus the Commonwealth should seek to cooperate fully with the United States and with European countries.32
The conference's endorsement of a Commonwealth approach to Europe, alongside that to the United States, had been secured only through strong Foreign Office pressure. Commonwealth representatives had shown an extreme reluctance to endorse cooperation with Western Europe, fearing that telecommunications would become one more economic field in which the balance of British attention would shift away from the Commonwealth and toward Europe.33 Australia and Canada would have preferred a more limited form of Commonwealth cooperation with the United States. For the smaller, less developed countries, meanwhile, satellites held no immediate interest, because the Commonwealth telephone cable scheme was expected to meet their needs well into the 1970s.
For political reasons connected to their general policy of seeking closer links with Europe, British ministers and officials, including those in the Foreign Office, had intended that, following the Commonwealth Conference, exploratory talks should be held with Europe in advance of any similar talks with the United States. This plan proved to be  impractical. Discussion within the Commonwealth Conference had been constrained by a lack of detailed knowledge of U.S. plans and intentions. This uncertainty made it difficult to discuss anything concrete, and the same limitations equally would affect talks with Europe.34 For practical reasons, therefore, it was accepted that talks with the United States should be initiated first, and preparations went forward on that basis.
Alongside the purely practical considerations influencing the decision to make the initial approach to the United States, the Foreign Office also believed that an initial approach to Europe would restrict Britain's opportunities for making the U.S. authorities aware of Commonwealth requirements. It was concerned that the other Europeans might insist that the approach to the United States be made by Europe as a whole, speaking with one voice. If the rest of Europe did not accept Britain's Commonwealth concerns, that single voice might well be antithetical to British interests. Such a move would produce a clear conflict between Britain's Commonwealth interests and its desire for a close association with Europe. The risk of conflict would be lessened by stating Commonwealth needs to the United States first, thereby avoiding a need to seek European agreement on this point.
In accordance with the Commonwealth Conference recommendations, Britain and Canada jointly initiated talks with the United States; the U.S. State Department agreed to a meeting in Washington on 29-31 October 1962. An earlier meeting had not been possible because of the lengthy passage through Congress of the Communications Satellite Act. The U.S. Communications Satellite Corporation (Comsat) envisaged by the act had yet to be established, while the law itself had left many aspects of future U.S. policy and intentions quite vague. Amidst these domestic uncertainties, the State Department did not want to be seen to have preempted future U.S. policy. Its officials stressed that the discussions would be purely exploratory and that in no way should American comments be taken as expressions of future American policy.35 For the British, too, the talks were not intended to be anything more than exploratory, given that the British ministers themselves had not yet decided British policy.36
The British came away from Washington with the feeling that the discussions had been "friendly and completely frank," with the United States officials having given satisfactory answers to nearly all of the questions asked of them.37 The Americans assured the British that they did not intend that other countries should be limited solely to the role of users of a U.S.-built satellite system.
There was general agreement with a British statement that the development of a full global satellite system would be evolutionary in character and that it would be constructed in successive stages, the first of which would be provided by the United States to cover the busiest traffic routes. This "evolutionary concept" represented Britain's wish to reconcile its desire to support a single global system with the desire that British and European industry should be able to provide equipment for the system. Thus, although the United States would provide the initial stage, the system's coverage and capacity would  be expanded in subsequent phases, and the system might use equipment from other countries in a number of different, but complementary orbits. The British stressed their belief that as time went by, and as Britain and other nations developed the appropriate technological capabilities, they should be allowed to supply the necessary equipment for the later stages alongside U.S. industry.38
Although U.S. officials talked freely about full international participation, they would not agree to references in a British-prepared summary of the talks that mentioned both "international cooperation in the provision and development of a satellite system" and "the need for decisions about design and construction to be taken jointly by the countries participating in the system" lest these be taken as an expression of U.S. policy. In their place, the United States suggested weaker phrasing: "broad international participation" and "the need for consultation in design and construction matters."39
Coming away from these talks, Sir Robert Harvey, the leader of the British delegation, had felt that matters now were much more uncertain regarding future U.S. policy.40 Ronald Hope-Jones of the Foreign Office was far less pessimistic, however. He recognized that U.S. officials had been faced with domestic constraints that prevented them from being more forthcoming in their acceptance of Anglo-Canadian views.41
The Washington talks were followed by exploratory talks with Europe. The British Post Office arranged for these to be under the auspices of the Telecommunications Commission of the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations (CEPT, French acronym). The meeting was held in Cologne on 12-14 December 1962. Gilbert Carter of the U.S. State Department informally addressed the Telecommunications Commission. Carter outlined U.S. thinking on a "single global system," constructed through "full international cooperation." His presentation strongly influenced the subsequent course of CEPT discussions.
The Europeans expressed support for the U.S. vision of the future development of satellite communications. None showed any desire to establish a separate European satellite system. At the same time, they did not intend to become wholly dependent on the United States, and they were intent on playing as full a part as possible in the design and management of the single global system, as well as in the construction of its later stages. CEPT members rejected as premature French and Swedish proposals for the establishment of a formal European satellite organization, limiting themselves to forming an ad hoc committee of CEPT itself. This committee would study the technical aspects of the problem in greater detail and would draft the basis of a common CEPT position ahead of talks with the United States.42
Although the CEPT meeting had effectively endorsed the Foreign Office's views, the latter nevertheless was unhappy with the choice of CEPT as the focal point for the exploratory talks with Europe. The Foreign Office felt that CEPT members, who were drawn from the telecommunications authorities of their respective governments, would be  insufficiently aware of the political dimensions of the problem.43 Underlying this dissatisfaction was a much deeper difference of approach between the Foreign Office and the Post Office. The Post Office objected to the former's desire that the making of satellite communications policy should be removed from the technical level of the telecommunications authorities,44 wishing instead to conduct matters according to traditional international telecommunications practices in which foreign policy issues had played very little part.
The Foreign Office knew that traditional practices would be inappropriate to the specific issues raised by satellite communications. It realized that the Post Office could not be relied on to insist on a role for European industry. The Foreign Office also feared that French President Charles de Gaulle might want to insist on an independent European satellite system and thereby prevent a broader U.S.-European-Commonwealth system from taking shape.45 The Post Office would be unable to handle that situation. By the end of 1962, while it had not as yet expressed any preference for an independent system, the French government had indicated that it would be treating the whole subject as primarily a political issue. The French foreign ministry, the Quai d'Orsay, would soon be given a prominent role in determining French policy.46 Thus, while the CEPT meeting had indicated an apparent European readiness to endorse a single global system, with even the French representatives signaling their approval, its position had been derived largely from technical considerations. The CEPT meeting's views might yet be overruled once European governments became more fully aware of the wider political, commercial, and industrial issues involved in establishing a satellite organization.47
The round of intergovernmental discussions outlined above was wholly exploratory, and no firm decisions were made during its course. Throughout, however, Foreign Office officials worked to secure broad acceptance at home and abroad for their own view of how international satellite communications should be developed--namely, through a fully  participatory international cooperative effort in which all members would have a right to participate in the design, construction, management, and operation of a single world satellite system.
By the end of 1962, support for the Foreign Office view of how satellite communications should develop had been expressed by the Commonwealth and by the European telecommunications authorities represented in CEPT. Although a number of British and Continental European politicians and industrialists still wanted an independent European satellite system with which to compete with a U.S. system, no European government thus far had expressed a desire to establish a separate system. At the same time, the Post Office, despite its support for the goal of a single system, and despite the obvious foreign policy implications of the subject, was anxious to deny foreign ministries any role in the settling of policy. Instead, it wished to proceed by the same commercial practices that had governed the introduction of telephone cables a few years previously. This attitude was shared by other European telecommunications authorities and by Comsat. Nevertheless, during the course of 1963, despite such internal opposition, European governments would opt to pursue negotiations with the United States on something similar to the full multilateral basis that had been recommended by the Foreign Office, thereby rejecting an independent and wholly competitive response to the United States.
1. The research on which this chapter is based was supported by a Science and Engineering Research Council/Economic and Social Research Council studentship. The author would like to thank Philip Gummett for his suggestions and comments on an earlier draft.
2. For examples of this tendency, see Delbert D. Smith, Communication by Satellite: A Vision in Retrospect (Leyden, MA: A.W. Sijthoff, 1976), p. 136; Walter McDougall, . . . The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age (New York: Basic Books, 1985), pp. 356-57.
3. The formal period of negotiation is covered in Judith Tegger Kildow, Intelsat: Policy Maker's Dilemma (Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath, 1973); Jonathan F. Galloway, The Politics and Technology of Satellite Communications (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1972). These works focus mainly on developments within the United States, however.
4. The total net outstanding investment represented by the assets making up the Commonwealth system was approximately £110 million (more than $300 million). "Means of Associating Commonwealth Countries with a European Regional Organisation," undated draft, circa late August 1963, FO 371/171060, GP1173/289, Public Record Office, London (hereafter "London PRO"). For the origins and subsequent development of the Commonwealth network, see Daniel R. Headrick, The Invisible Weapon: Telecommunications and International Politics 1851-1945 (Oxford, Eng.: Oxford University Press, 1991); Hugh Barty-King, Girdle Round the Earth: The Story of Cable and Wireless and its Predecessors to Mark the Group's Jubilee 1929-1979 (London: Heinemann, 1979).
5. The original parties to the 1948 Agreement were Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa, Southern Rhodesia, and the United Kingdom. By the end of 1962, Ceylon, Cyprus, Ghana, Malaysia, and Nigeria had joined, while South Africa had withdrawn from the Commonwealth on becoming a republic in 1961.
6. The Commonwealth "round-the-world" telephone cable scheme had been accepted by the Commonwealth governments during 1958. It had been estimated to cost a total of £88 million--a figure that included the Anglo-Canadian share of the first transatlantic telephone cable, TAT-1, laid in partnership with AT&T. Britain had agreed to contribute 50 percent of this total. "Proposed Commonwealth Pacific Telephone Cable System," Post Office Electrical Engineers' Journal 53 (April 1960): 42-44. This scheme included cables to South Africa that subsequently were constructed outside of the Commonwealth network.
7. Herbert Schiller has strongly suggested that a satellite communications monopoly was, in fact, a conscious goal of many U.S. policy makers, who exhibited "a compulsive drive to transfer permanently to American hands the former British communications superiority." Herbert I. Schiller, Mass Communications and American Empire (New York: Augustus M. Kelley, 1970), p. 136.
8. For expressions of this view, see Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, V.632, written answers, 21 December 1960, col. 189-90, and V.659, Oral, 8 May 1962, col. 204-5. The conclusion that both satellites and cables would be accommodated in a complementary relationship has the obvious precedent of the accommodation between shortwave radio and telegraph cables in the late 1920s. See Headrick, Invisible Weapon, chapter 11.
9. "Discussions with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration," Post Office memorandum, 28 August 1961, CAB 134/2144, JTS(61)6, London PRO. Initially, the Post Office was less enthusiastic about this offer than we might now expect. Captain Booth of the Post Office had received NASA's invitation very coolly in the eyes of others among the Thuillier delegation. Booth apparently was unaware that NASA's authority extended to the sphere of satellite communications and regarded AT&T as the more authoritative organization within the United States. See D. Gibson, minute, 9 February 1961, FO 371/157381, IAS 131/8, London PRO. See also note 10 below. It should be recalled that in December 1960, the Eisenhower administration had issued a statement of its preferred satellite communications policy, in which it emphasized the traditional role of private industry in U.S. communications.
10. AT&T and the Post Office were long-standing business partners, having introduced the first transatlantic radiotelephone services in the late 1920s and the first transatlantic telephone cable in the 1950s. In fact, AT&T already had asked the Post Office to participate in experimental satellite trials before NASA's decision to become involved in similar trials. Postmaster General to Prime Minister, 28 July and 6 September 1960, PREM 11/3098, London PRO.
11. Technical details of the Goonhilly station can be found in F.J.D. Taylor, ed., The Goonhilly Project: Communication-Satellite Ground Station (London: The Institution of Electrical Engineers, 1964).
12. Ronald C. Hope-Jones, "Satellite Communications: the Salient Facts," 15 March 1963, FO 371/171048, GP1173/48, London PRO.
13. Galloway, The Politics and Technology, p. 26.
14. Vernon Van Dyke, Pride and Power: The Rationale of the Space Program (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1964), p. 25.
15. The Post Office originally had intended to seek its Commonwealth partners' views during 1961, but the conference arranged for the end of that year was postponed until spring 1962, to allow for the conclusion of the negotiations toward the establishment of ELDO, thereby allowing the conference to meet with the knowledge that an independent European launcher would become available in due course.
16. Initially, the British government's intention had been to foster closer links between the European Common Market and the countries of the European Free Trade Association. A formal decision to apply for actual membership in the Common Market was not taken until mid-1961. John Campbell, Edward Heath: A Biography (London: Pimlico, 1994), pp. 113, 116.
17. For a fuller account of ELDO's origins and the part played by the Macmillan government's European aspirations, see John Krige, The Launch of ELDO, ESA HSR-7 (Noordwijk: ESA, March 1993).
18. Ad Hoc Ministerial Committee on Blue Streak (GEN 716), minutes of first meeting, 6 July 1960, CAB 130/173, London PRO.
19. Ad Hoc Ministerial Committee on Blue Streak (GEN 716), minutes of third meeting, 5 December 1960, CAB 130/173, London PRO.
20. The Commonwealth and European governments shared a mutual antipathy toward Commonwealth-European collaboration. However, Australia was included in the membership of ELDO by virtue of the extensive Woomera rocket range from where the European launcher was to be fired.
21. For detailed accounts of these negotiations, see Krige, The Launch of ELDO; Michelangelo De Maria, The History of ELDO Part 1: 1961-1964, ESA HSR-10 (Noordwijk: ESA, September 1993).
22. AT&T proposed such a system to the Federal Communications Commission in July 1960. Smith, Communication by Satellite, p. 58. The company's experimental Telstar satellites were intended to be the forerunners of a system of this type.
23. Long Distance Communications by Satellite, subcommittee of the Joint Civil and Services Telecommunications Committee, Memorandum JTS(61)11, 31 October 1961, CAB 134/2144, London PRO. The current thinking of the Post Office with regard to the design of a satellite system is outlined, albeit without specific reference to Commonwealth requirements, in W.J. Bray, "Satellite Communication Systems," Post Office Electrical Engineers' Journal 55 (July 1962): 97-104.
24. Ronald C. Hope-Jones, "Commonwealth Conference on Satellite Communications," 23 March 1962, FO 371/165275, GT2/54, London PRO.
25. Maurice Dean to the Secretary of State for Air, memorandum, 12 May 1961, AIR 8/2255, London PRO. The Post Office was quite adamant that it would not contribute to the cost of the European launcher or even to a proposed program of basic satellite research into techniques common to a range of different satellite applications.
26. During 1963, the Post Office's commercial bias was compared with that of Comsat in the United States; the only difference between them was judged to be that whereas Comsat's commercial bias favored U.S. industry, that of the Post Office did not favor British industry. See Edward Heath to Julian Amery, enclosure, 5 July 1963, FO 371/171055, GP1173/182, London PRO. It should be noted, however, that the Post Office's commercial bias meant only that it was not prepared to subsidize European industry by paying noncompetitive prices; this did not preclude the possibility of subsidy from elsewhere in government.
27. Cabinet Combined Communications-Electronics Committee, CCC(63)4, Memorandum by the Foreign Office, undated, circa February 1963, CAB 134/1451, London PRO. Although dating from 1963, this quote nevertheless is of a piece with Foreign Office comments through 1962.
28. Ronald Hope-Jones to M.D. Butler, letter, 26 November 1962, FO 371/165249, London PRO.
29. Hope-Jones summarized his arguments in an internal Foreign Office report during March. See "Commonwealth Conference on Satellite Communications," 13 March 1962, FO 371/165275, GT2/54, London PRO. More generally, Hope-Jones reported his belief that "American thinking . . . [with regard to the practicalities of international cooperation in the field of satellite communications] . . . is not nearly as far advanced [in progress] as is sometimes supposed, and I believe that if we could get a mandate from the Commonwealth to discuss our ideas with European countries and could then obtain their support in principle for a joint approach to the United States, we should regain a great deal of the initiative now held by the Americans."
30. At that time, transatlantic routes accounted for almost 80 percent of total intercontinental telecommunications traffic. Thus, the key to profitability for any satellite system would be the extent of its access to transatlantic traffic and revenues. Parliamentary Debates, House of Commons, V.674, 29 March 1963, col. 1719.
31. Cabinet Economic Policy Committee, E.A.(62)80, memorandum by the Postmaster General, 13 June 1962, CAB 134/1696, London PRO.
32. Registry number 22325/62, File 2A, SWP 21, British Telecom Archives, London.
33. Foreign Office brief, undated, circa March 1963, FO 371/171030, GP1023/3(A), London PRO.
34. Hope-Jones to Butler, 26 November 1962.
35. Minute to the Postmaster General, 13 November 1962, Registry no. 22325/62, File 2A, SWP 26(Revise), British Telecom Archives.
36. R.J.P. Harvey, minutes, 22 October 1962, FO 371/165249, GP173/39, London PRO.
37. Satellite working party, minutes of the eighth meeting, 8 November 1962, Registry no. 22325/62, File 4, British Telecom Archives.
38. Ronald C. Hope-Jones to J.F. Hosie, 5 November 1962, FO 371/165249, GP173/27, London PRO.
39. Foreign Office brief, undated, circa March 1963.
41. Ronald C. Hope-Jones, handwritten sleeve note, 5 November 1962, FO 371/165249, GP173/26, London PRO. Hope-Jones was sure that "the Americans are now in no doubt about our aspirations and know that they will have to accommodate them in working out their own plans for a single global system to be achieved by full international participation."
42. Registry No. 22325/62, File 2A, SWP 31(Final), British Telecom Archives, London.
43. Ronald C. Hope-Jones, minute, 21 December 1962, FO 371/171046, GP1173/3, London PRO. A U.S. State Department official had commented that the Post Office seemed to regard satellites as little more than "a telegraph pole in the sky." Hope-Jones stressed that satellite communications had to be thought of as a space activity just as much as a communications activity. As a space activity, it was the most likely field in which to secure a fruitful international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space, which was a major interest of the United Nations.
44. This difference was not unique to Britain. Gilbert Carter of the U.S. State Department had noted similar conflicts between the telecommunications authorities and foreign ministries within several European countries. The same differences also existed in the United States between the State Department and Comsat, with the latter having adopted the working attitudes of the traditional communications carriers. While the State Department wanted satellite communications to be handled through fully multilateral negotiations, Comsat was pressing for matters to be settled through bilateral agreements. Galloway, The Politics and Technology, p. 103.
45. Hope-Jones to Butler, 26 November 1962.
46. When the French learned of the Anglo-Canadian visit to Washington, they assumed that Britain had proposed a formal U.S.-Commonwealth collaboration in preference to a European collaboration centered on ELDO, resulting in "sadness in high quarters" within the French government (that is, General de Gaulle). Paris Embassy Telegram No. 362, 7 November 1962, FO 371/165249, GP173/30, London PRO.
47. M.D. Butler to Hope-Jones, letter, 7 December 1962, FO 371/165251, GP173/63, London PRO. An official of the Quai d'Orsay had told Butler, a member of the British Embassy staff in Paris, that as yet the French government had not decided its satellite communications policy, which in any event would have to be approved by General de Gaulle. The Quai d'Orsay had no knowledge of a paper tabled at the CEPT meeting by the French telecommunications authority. This paper had not been authorized and, as such, could only be regarded as giving the personal views of the French telecommunications authority representatives who had written it.