In the four decades since the launch of Sputnik, communications satellites remain the only truly commercial space technology. Less than eight years after Sputnik, a revenue-producing satellite, Early Bird, emerged. Thus far in the 1990s, the average number of communications satellites launched annually has been twenty, at an average cost of more than $50 million for the satellite and another $50 million (or more) for the launch vehicle. The average spent annually on communications satellites is in excess of $2 billion.
In the face of this overwhelming commercial success, most analysts of the early development of communications satellites have concentrated on politics and policy studies, almost excluding the technological and economic origins of this industry. These analysts tend to discuss the passage of the Communications Satellite Act of 1962 and the ups and downs of the NASA communications satellite program, with little reference to technology or economics. As a consequence of this emphasis on political studies, conventional wisdom asserts that the government developed communications satellite technology because industry was unwilling or unable to face the high costs and high risks associated with communications satellite research and development. This conventional wisdom assumes that industry would not develop new communications satellite technology because it was too risky, there was a lack of funds, and industry would not be able to appropriate the benefits.1
While some communications satellite technology flows from one manufacturer to another, much is protected by patents, and even more is protected by the difficulty of learning new technology. Technology transfer, even when facilitated by cooperation, is often difficult. Many early geosynchronous satellites used techniques pioneered by Hughes on Syncom in 1963. The Hughes-Williams patent was the subject of litigation for years, but it proved to be quite valuable to Hughes. Eventually, most other manufacturers and the U.S. government had to pay royalties to Hughes. Perhaps more important, Hughes has dominated the manufacture of communications satellites since the first Syncom in 1963. The risk of competitors appropriating technology is greatly overstated.
Capital has rarely been the most important issue when investors looked at communications satellites; access to the market has been far more important. Telecommunications has been a multibillion-dollar business for most of this century. AT&T, in particular, certainly had the financial resources to invest in communications satellites.
 In 1955, John R. Pierce of AT&T compared the estimated cost of satellite communications with the cost of the first transatlantic telephone cable (TAT-1) then being laid between the United States and Europe. The cable would provide approximately thirty-six voice circuits at a cost of around $35 million. Pierce then asked his readers: "Would a channel 30 times as wide [as TAT-1], which would accommodate 1080 [30x36] phone conversations or one television signal, be worth 30x35 million dollars: that is, a billion dollars?"2 AT&T was in a position to fund a billion-dollar project. In 1959, with net sales of over $7 billion, AT&T was in a better position to fund communications satellite research and development than NASA, whose entire budget was only a few hundred million dollars.
In late 1964, after the successful launch of Syncom 3 and prior to the launch of Early Bird, NASA Administrator James E. Webb asked his staff: "How did we get so much communications satellite technology for so little money?"3 His question has never been adequately answered, because most analysts have concentrated on political, rather than technological, issues. This chapter addresses the history of the development of that technology and, in the process, attempts to answer Webb's question.
The roots of nearly all of the technologies associated with communications satellites extend back to World War II. Although billions were spent on the Manhattan Project, radar research and development, and the development of the B-29, the program that most stimulated a longing to exploit space was the relatively inexpensive German V2 rocket. The V2 made it clear that rockets were practical and, with a little more development, could place a satellite in orbit.
Although Hermann Oberth in 1923 and George O. Smith in 1942 had speculated about geosynchronous or, in Smith's case, Earth-Venus relay communications satellites, the acknowledged "father"--or, in his own words, "godfather"--of communications satellites was Arthur C. Clarke, a Royal Air Force officer at the time who hoped to revitalize the British Interplanetary Society after the war. Clarke was the first, in his October 1945 Wireless World article, to develop rather fully the concept of a geosynchronous satellite. Three of these satellites, each fixed over a specific longitude on the equator, would provide complete global coverage. Clarke envisioned their use for television programming, and he assumed that the satellite would be occupied by humans to change the vacuum tubes on a regular basis.4
The Wireless World article did not receive wide publicity. Clarke's real contribution to satellite communications was to continue pressing for a geosynchronous system in other publications. His book The Exploration of Space5 included a system of three geosynchronous satellites, and many readers viewed it as a blueprint for the entire space program.6 At the same time as the publication of Clarke's Wireless World article, moreover, U.S. Navy researchers began developing launch vehicles and satellites,7 and, failing to find higher  level support, they approached the Army Air Forces with a proposal for a joint program. Ultimately, the Army Air Forces was as unwilling as the Navy to fund the project.
Despite this failure, one positive outcome was an independent study of the feasibility of Earth satellites by Project RAND (then a part of the Douglas Aircraft Corporation and not yet an independent, nonprofit research and development organization) on behalf of the Army Air Forces.8 Completed on 12 May 1946, the RAND report observed, among other points, that a satellite launch would have a dramatic effect on world opinion and that the satellite might have notable use as a communications relay.9 In spite of a curtailment of military research and development expenditures under the Truman administration, subsequent RAND studies of geosynchronous communications satellites and the political and psychological aspects of launch vehicles appeared in 1949 and 1950, respectively.10 These RAND studies emphasized that whichever nation first launched a satellite would score a tremendous psychological victory and that the satellite could be used for reconnaissance. In the words of historian Walter A. McDougall, the 1950 RAND report "more than any other, deserves to be considered the birth certificate of American Space Policy."11 Over the following years, RAND, the Air Force, North American Aviation, and other defense companies worked on reconnaissance, rather than on other satellite applications. Instead, communications satellites were to be born from civilian commercial telecommunications developments.
Following World War II, telephone use underwent a dramatic increase. Communications in general grew at more than three times the gross national product (GNP) rate of growth. A large component of that growth was in both domestic and international long-distance traffic. However, few improvements had been made since the laying of the last transatlantic telegraph cable in 1928. Radiotelegraphy and radiotelephony, while rapidly overtaking underwater cable telegraphy, suffered from noise that was inherent in the technology. The first transatlantic telephone cable (TAT-1) was not laid until 1956. TAT-1 was mainly an AT&T venture in collaboration with such foreign partners as the British Post Office and Canada's Overseas Telecommunications Corporation. Indicative of the cable's success was the immediate inclusion of radio companies (RCA, ITT, and Western Union) in the TAT-1 arrangements. They recognized the superiority of the new technology and wanted to take part in its exploitation. Next came TAT-2 in 1959, owned by AT&T, the French Postal and Telecommunications Administration (Direction des Télécommunications Sous-Marines), and the Deutsche Bundespost, and TAT-3, owned by AT&T and the British Post Office, in 1963.12 Behind the laying of these transatlantic cables was a dramatic growth in international telephone traffic throughout the postwar period, generally at the rate of 20 percent per year (Figure 18).
Although RCA developed much of the radio and television technology, AT&T, specifically its Bell Telephone Laboratories, made many breakthroughs in basic electronic devices, the most famous of which was the transistor. AT&T also was deeply involved in developing the maser and the traveling-wave tube. The maser is a low-noise amplifier, an important component of ground stations receiving weak satellite signals; the traveling-wave tube is a high-gain linear amplifier used in satellite transmitters. While masers originated at Columbia University, Bell Telephone Laboratories worked hard at adapting the technology to underwater telephone cables. Bell also developed the traveling-wave tube for use in microwave relay stations. Furthermore, AT&T performed extensive research and development work for the U.S. government, including nuclear weapons research (Sandia), missile studies (Safeguard), and Apollo program support (BellComm). While other companies also had research and development laboratories, AT&T stood at the top in terms of the caliber of the research and development performed, as well as the company's willingness to invest vast sums.
Similar to AT&T, most of the firms that later became involved in satellite communications had been around for some time. General Electric was the oldest, having been formed by the merger of Thompson-Houston and Edison General Electric in 1892. AT&T was formed in 1895. Both ITT, created to manage a variety of telephone and telegraph companies initially in Latin America, and RCA, organized to pool radio patents, were formed in 1920. GTE was a telephone competitor of AT&T. Hughes, which started in the 1930s as a "hobby-shop" for Howard Hughes, grew dramatically in the postwar period. All of these companies were major electronics manufacturers, and all, except Hughes and General Electric, had significant stakes as communications system operators.
These firms generally were quite large. In 1959, all of these companies combined spent more than NASA. AT&T and General Electric alone accounted for more than 2 percent of the GNP. The following are the 1959 U.S. GNP, federal outlays, the budgets of NASA and the Department of Defense (DoD), and the net sales of the eight largest American companies (industry figures are net sales):
Western Union International
AT&T dominated the telecommunications industry; consequently, any improvement in telecommunications technology ultimately was to the advantage of AT&T. By 1957, when Sputnik began orbiting the Earth, all the technologies necessary for satellite communications had been invented. All that remained was to demonstrate these technologies and to compare the different innovations that had been discussed in the technical literature.
The media panic resulting from the "surprise" launch of Sputnik 1 on 4 October 1957 did not evidence itself immediately in public policy, but it soon began to have an effect. A flurry of military rocket development ensued. The following month, both the Thor and Jupiter rockets were ordered into production, and by the end of the year, more than a half-dozen Thors had been fired. Thor would become the workhorse of the space program. Then, on 31 January 1958, the United States launched its first satellite, Explorer 1, followed on 17 March by Vanguard 1. All together, the United States had seven successful launches in 1958; the Soviet Union had only one.13 American missile technology now was available to launch communications experiments.
Meanwhile, John R. Pierce and Rudolf Kompfner of AT&T, independent inventors of the traveling-wave tube, saw an opportunity for AT&T to launch an experimental communications satellite. Sometime in early 1958, Pierce and Kompfner saw a picture of the shiny 100-foot (thirty-one-meter) sphere that William J. O'Sullivan of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) Langley Research Center had proposed for launch to undertake atmospheric research. It reminded Pierce of the 100-foot (thirty-one-meter) communications reflector he had envisioned orbiting around Earth in 1954. That summer, while Pierce and Kompfner were attending an Air Force-sponsored meeting on communications at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, Pierce met William H. Pickering, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), and the three engineers discussed the possibility of using a sphere such as O'Sullivan's for communications experiments. Pickering volunteered the support of JPL. To support their plan, Kompfner and Pierce presented a paper at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., on 6-7 October 1958.14
 The Pentagon had its own space program. In fact, before the advent of NASA, DoD had been the primary space agency and remained dominant for some time thereafter. DoD's initial responsibility for space activities was with the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). In the period between the announcement of the intention to form NASA in early 1958 and the actual formation of the space agency in late 1959, ARPA was responsible for managing all U.S. space programs and later for apportioning responsibility for those programs among the three armed services and the newly formed NASA.
In November 1958, representatives of NASA, ARPA, and the Bureau of the Budget met with the president's science advisor to discuss satellite communications. They agreed that ARPA would concentrate on active satellites, while NASA would develop passive satellites.15 NASA already was committed to launching balloons to study atmospheric density, and it was the only agency interested in Pierce's plan to bounce signals off balloons in orbit.
At the same time, Hughes was inching into the field of communications satellites. In 1959, when the Air Force canceled the F-108 long-range interceptor in response to the cancellation of the Soviet advanced intercontinental bomber program, the Hughes Aircraft Company lost its F-108 contracts and laid off 20 percent of its employees. Frank Carver, manager of the F-108 fire-control system design group, saw the layoff coming and asked Harold A. Rosen, an electrical engineering Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology (Caltech),16 to explore potential markets for the skills of the Advanced Development Laboratory personnel. Later in 1959, Donald D. Williams, a Harvard physics major, joined Rosen, and over the following months, they worked on the design of a lightweight geosynchronous communications satellite.17
Congressional hearings held 3 and 4 March 1959 on "satellites for world communication"18 illustrated the disparate lines along which military, civilian, and commercial satellite communications were developing. Of the six organizations making presentations, four of them, NASA, ARPA, AT&T, and ITT, were actively engaged in communications satellite research. AT&T and ITT even expected to make a profit in this endeavor. John Pierce, in making the AT&T presentation, mentioned that about two dozen professionals and various technicians were working on satellite communications at AT&T, a half-dozen of whom were full time. Although Pierce did not mention the development of the transistor by Bell Telephone Laboratories or his own invention of the traveling-wave tube (both necessary to satellite communications), the message was obvious: AT&T could do the job and already had started.19
Following Pierce was R.P. Haviland of General Electric. Haviland, based on his experience with the early Navy space effort (1945-1947) was General Electric's in-house "satellite expert." He described two possible communications satellites. One, for the future, was a huge manned television broadcast space station with living quarters and enormous antennas à la Clarke and costing under $2 billion. The second was a less ambitious project intended for the present. Sixteen satellites, each with four transmitters and capable of  200 simultaneous teletype messages, would provide global coverage. The cost of the whole system was between $100 and $150 million to establish and perhaps $50 million annually to operate. General Electric thus seemed prepared to enter the field of communications satellites, too.20
The next presenter was Henri G. Busignies, President of ITT Laboratories. He discussed ongoing research in satellite communications at ITT, which recently had been concentrating on twenty-four-hour satellite systems. ITT could handle the necessary satellite and ground station communications hardware, and it had joined with Curtis-Wright and Aerojet for assistance with the satellite vehicle itself. As with AT&T and General Electric, ITT was interested in communications satellites, but it seemed to be looking for a partner, especially one with a knowledge of satellites.21
The main message of the congressional hearings was that satellite communications were being taken seriously. ARPA, at least in the opinion of the AT&T engineers, was too ambitious--and perhaps insufficiently knowledgeable. AT&T, JPL, and NASA Langley were proceeding with a simple passive experiment (Project Echo), which, if successful, would lead to more complex satellites. AT&T clearly saw itself as the leader in passive satellite programs. The most important ground facilities would be those of Bell Telephone Laboratories in New Jersey and JPL in California. NASA would build and launch the balloon. AT&T treated JPL as a knowledgeable junior partner, but it considered the rest of NASA almost incompetent. Their worst comments were reserved for ARPA engineers and managers, though, whom they saw as unrealistically grandiose in their approach.22
Meanwhile, industry pushed forward their communications satellite plans. Rosen and Williams, joined by Tom Hudspeth, were busy at Hughes Aircraft Company. By the summer of 1959, they had designed, at least conceptually, a lightweight communications satellite, and they were ready to make presentations to upper management.23 Rosen's satellite proposal then underwent evaluation in an in-house review. The study recommended that Hughes seriously consider a commercial venture in satellite communications. Even though certain aspects of the proposal were overly optimistic, communications satellites could generate prestige for the company. The major obstacle would be commercial: finding enough traffic to make the system profitable. The review recommended, therefore, a thorough study of the business aspects of satellite communications and talks with General Telephone, the largest Bell competitor.24
The Hughes Aircraft Company Task Force on Commercial Satellite Communication25 met for the first time a few weeks later on 12 October 1959. The group determined that the most critical aspect of satellite communications was not the technology, but the commercial prospects. The AT&T monopoly would be difficult, but not necessarily impossible, to circumvent. A satellite's value need not be determined necessarily by its ability to carry  telephone traffic; that value could come from prestige, a claim on a section of the stationary orbit, a wide bandwidth service (such as television), or military communications. Many questions were left to be answered, however. What about competition from AT&T and RCA? Should government support be sought?26
The recommendations of the Hughes task force strongly endorsed the Rosen satellite proposal. Hughes had a cost advantage that derived, according to the task force, from the "Hughes brand of system engineering." NASA, RCA, Space Electronics, and the Army had proposed solving the problems of geosynchronous satellites with large complex spacecraft, while Hughes alone (successfully) had attempted to design a cheap lightweight spacecraft. The task force recommended starting immediately to capture the prestige of having the first satellite in orbit, funding the development of the traveling-wave tube separately as a commercial product, and exploring cooperation with General Telephone.27
Following a briefing a week later on 26 October 1959 by Dr. A.V. Haeff of the task force, L.A. "Pat" Hyland, Hughes General Manager, suggested determining whether new technologies developed for satellite communications could be patented and coordinating efforts with NASA as other firms had done on Atomic Energy Commission projects. On those projects, the government financed the development of a type or class of reactor but allowed industry to develop it commercially and to retain commercial rights over the patents that it generated. Hyland also urged that dialogue with potential partners not be engaged until after both these issues were resolved. Finally, he decided, the development of the traveling-wave tube should proceed only if its value were comparable to other research projects.28
On 5 November 1959, Donald Williams of Hughes traveled to NASA headquarters for a meeting with Homer J. Stewart, who headed a small planning group under NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan. Although most Hughes senior executives were not too upset at the thought of NASA taking over their patent rights, Williams, the inventor of the orbit and altitude control system, prefaced his discussions with a statement that Hughes did not want to lose their proprietary rights by talking to NASA. Stewart assured him that this would not happen. Williams emphasized the Hughes interest in proceeding with their satellite program as a commercial venture. Stewart saw the Hughes-funded commercial communications satellite program as being in line with the traditional U.S. policy of letting the private sector run telecommunications, but, Stewart warned with some prescience, a faction in Congress would oppose privately owned commercial communications satellites.29
As with Hughes, AT&T was proceeding with its own communications satellite program. During most of 1959, AT&T concentrated on building antennas, transmitters, and receivers for the Echo program. By November, successful Moon-bounce experiments had been conducted between AT&T's Bell Telephone Laboratories facilities at Crawford Hill, New Jersey, and JPL's Goldstone facilities.30 AT&T and several of the other companies  interested in satellite communications (notably ITT, but also Hughes) viewed the ground facilities as the most important component of a communications satellite system. In general, from this early period to the present, more money has been spent on ground stations than on the communications satellites themselves. The prevalence of the Bell Telephone Laboratories technology in its own systems suggested to AT&T's researchers that the company had a technological advantage over other companies.31
In addition to work on passive satellites, such as Echo, AT&T was not neglecting active satellite design. By August 1959, Leroy C. Tillotson, a senior engineer at Bell Telephone Laboratories, had described a satellite design quite similar to Telstar in a memorandum, and another Bell memorandum described a satellite traveling-wave tube. By the end of 1959, studies of spacecraft power systems (such as solar cells, Ni-Cd batteries, and DC-DC converters), structures, space environment, thermal control, and attitude control also had been completed. Perhaps more important was a growing commitment to the development of active satellites. In the words of Pierce: "by the end of 1959 our thoughts were directed toward a simple, low-altitude active satellite as the next step."32
By the end of 1959, the various commercial communications satellite programs were moving along. Hughes had designed the basic Syncom satellite, and it was considering developing that satellite in partnership with NASA.33 AT&T and NASA were finishing preparations for Echo, and the firm was proceeding with an active satellite design. NASA, the fledgling space agency, still had no communications satellite policy despite its participation in the Echo program.
Aside from Echo, the first reference in the diaries of NASA Administrator T. Keith Glennan to communications satellites is an entry dated 27 July 1960, in which he refers to a meeting with George B. Kistiakowsky, the president's science advisor, to talk about communications satellites. The two were concerned that public policy had not been developed in this area, yet the "pressures generated by AT&T and by the military as well as by other industrial suppliers are building up quite a fire."34
The next day, Glennan assigned Robert G. Nunn, Jr., NASA's Assistant General Counsel, the task of preparing an outline of a position paper to be delivered at a cabinet meeting in which NASA would request responsibility for preparing administration policy on communications satellites. A week later, Nunn and John A. Johnson, NASA's General Counsel, met with Glennan to discuss what was now called "the communications satellite problem." The following days' diary entries were filled with references to communications satellites, including an 11 August meeting with an AT&T delegation that had been exploring the possibility of a joint communications satellite program with partners in Britain, France, and West Germany. In the space of a few days, NASA, at least as evidenced by  Glennan's diary entries, had gone from a position of almost no interest in communications satellites to one of very high interest--even "owning the problem."35
NASA had concentrated on passive satellites, as specified in the 1959 agreement with DoD, and had assumed that the Pentagon would be responsible for active satellites. That policy was about to change. After consulting with Budget Director Maurice H. Stans and Deputy Secretary of Defense James H. Douglas, Jr., Glennan developed a new agreement with DoD that allowed NASA to proceed with an active communications satellite program. Discussions with General Counsel John Johnson made it clear to Glennan that many other policy problems had to be solved as well.
AT&T remained the leading firm with a communications satellite program, although on 19 August 1959, George Metcalf of General Electric, contractor for the military communications satellite Advent, communicated to Glennan his firm's interest in developing a commercial launch and data-acquisition service, including a Pacific Ocean launch site.36 AT&T, in contrast, was willing to put its own money into satellite communications. On 15 September 1959, George Best and William Baker of AT&T met with Glennan to provide more background on AT&T's interest in communications satellites. They informed him that AT&T was prepared to spend $30 million for three satellite flights--more if they had any success. This was the first proposal Glennan had received from industry in which company, rather than government, funds were to be committed.
Almost a week later, on 21 September, as Glennan discussed his upcoming trip to Bell Telephone Laboratories for an Echo demonstration, his lawyers and deputy argued that his presence would give the appearance of NASA support for AT&T. Glennan was not amused. He wrote in his diary: "AT&T is going to be in the business and if we are going to take leadership in getting this program off the ground, it seems to me that we have to take a positive rather than a negative viewpoint in matters of this kind." Glennan attended the demonstration the next day. A picture of Glennan and the six Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioners in attendance was transmitted by facsimile to the Naval Research Laboratory, then returned to Bell in Holmdel, New Jersey, via the Echo balloon. Glennan was impressed.37
Nonetheless, the development of administration policy on communications satellites did not move forward during the final days of the Eisenhower administration. November came and went with no sign of the cabinet paper Glennan had proposed reading since July and had promised for the 11 November 1960 cabinet meeting. Glennan seems to have been surprised that 11 November was a holiday. Generals Wilton B. Persons (Eisenhower's chief of staff) and Andrew J. Goodpaster (White House staff secretary) chided Glennan, telling him that the president wanted to mention communications satellites in his State of the Union message. On 7 December 1959, Glennan, Nunn, and Johnson met with representatives of AT&T in their Manhattan offices. Glennan suggested that AT&T might be better off by minimizing its role in satellite communications to avoid monopoly problems. The provision of ground stations for the upcoming satellite program at no cost to the government would be a good start, he suggested.
The next day at a NASA meeting on the subject, Abe Silverstein, NASA's director of space flight programs, objected strongly to the presence of private companies in the communications satellite business. Glennan was amazed. Another meeting with AT&T, this time in Washington, included the details of their program. The program impressed Glennan,  but he was beginning to believe that the Washington establishment was too anti-business to tolerate an AT&T monopoly of satellite communications. After giving Eisenhower a copy of the communications satellite briefing paper on 19 December, Glennan presented the paper to the whole cabinet on 20 December 1959. Eisenhower released the details of the paper at the end of the month as his communications satellite policy. It emphasized the traditional private nature of the U.S. telecommunications industry.38
On 23 December 1959, as most members of the Eisenhower administration were packing their bags, and while Keith Glennan was taking his Christmas holiday, Robert Nunn and John Johnson met with Attorney General William P. Rogers to discuss NASA's future relationship with AT&T. Nunn, the special assistant for communications satellite policy, was not a political appointee; he and General Counsel Johnson continued at NASA under the Kennedy presidency. They outlined key elements of future NASA policy. Nunn believed that "AT&T [was] realistically the only company capable of doing the job." On the other hand, the monopoly power of AT&T and its attempt to "preempt" the role of communications satellite builder and operator "would in effect select AT&T as the 'chosen instrument' of the United States." Rogers argued that the government must not act to put AT&T in a preemptive position, nor must it appear to do so. Moreover, Rogers advised, "the Executive Branch probably should obtain at least the acquiescence of Congress." Nunn and Johnson showed Rogers the Glennan position paper, which the White House had released. Although he had no overall problem with the paper, Rogers objected to two sentences that specified "private enterprise" and rejected government operation of a communications satellite system. The sentences remained in the statement.39
Before his election, John F. Kennedy's attitudes toward the space program are not clear, but his transition team developed some strong feelings about the space program in general and about satellite communications in particular. Jerome B. Wiesner, assigned the task of examining the U.S. space program and advising the president, was critical of the space program. In particular, he believed that developing a satellite communications system was beyond the investment capabilities of industry.40 Wiesner, though, had proposed a joint U.S.-U.S.S.R. communications satellite program in 1959.41 Lying beneath Wiesner's evaluation of communications satellites was a strong belief that this new technology should not become an AT&T monopoly. The Kennedy administration was prepared to overturn the Eisenhower view that private industry was the logical candidate to develop commercial satellite communications. They were not alone inside Washington.
Despite the positive temper of talks between NASA and AT&T, NASA civil servants made it clear that they were against AT&T involvement in satellite communications. As Glennan wrote in his diary: "[Leonard] Jaffe and Silverstein seem[ed] determined that anything short of having someone other than AT&T win the competition will be tantamount to following a 'chosen instrument' policy."42 Glennan had done his best, but he left behind civil servants who seemed strongly biased against private industry, or at least against AT&T.
 That bias permeated NASA policy on satellite ground stations. Both AT&T and ITT had offered to provide stations for active communications satellite experiments at no cost to the government. NASA accepted AT&T's offer for ground stations in the United States, but the space agency felt that the State Department, rather than AT&T, should make arrangements for foreign stations. Although AT&T already had cleared the way, NASA reached formal agreements with Britain (14 February 1961) and France (16 February 1961) to participate in the testing of Relay, a medium-altitude repeater, and Rebound, a low-altitude balloon reflector.
Part of defining satellite communications policy involved determining the separate responsibilities of NASA and the FCC. Those agencies defined their respective roles in a memorandum of understanding signed 27 February 1961. The FCC remained responsible for spectrum allocation, while NASA looked after technology and policy.43 However, the question of public versus private ownership remained to be answered. On 27 February 1961, new NASA Administrator James E. Webb met briefly with Robert Nunn and asked for a briefing on communications satellite developments. The following day, Nunn obliged. He emphasized that NASA had a policy formation role and suggested that Webb read both the United Research report favoring government ownership of communications satellites and the Glennan cabinet paper favoring private ownership.
The question of public versus private satellite ownership also entered the drafting of NASA's budget. In March 1961, NASA was preparing its fiscal year 1963 budget estimates. The budget rested on several assumptions--namely, no funding for operational systems (only demonstrations would receive support), ground support, or passive satellite development.44 The NASA fiscal year 1962 budget proposed by the outgoing Eisenhower administration included $34.6 million for communications satellite development. Some controversy lingered as to how much industry should reimburse NASA for communications satellite development. In December 1960, Glennan had asked Budget Director Maurice Stans to include the $10 million industry contribution in the NASA budget, so that the government would not be dependent on industry. Stans refused. Then, during a 14 January 1961 press conference on the NASA budget, NASA Deputy Administrator Hugh L. Dryden was asked why industry, given their obvious interest, was paying only $10 million. Dryden gave an uncommitted response. The following month, Webb, NASA Associate Administrator Robert C. Seamans, Jr., and Senator Robert S. Kerr (D-OK) discussed the $10 million. Kerr and Webb agreed that the figure should appear in the supplemental budget, and the $10 million finally showed up in the March amendment to the budget.45
Meanwhile, AT&T was losing ground at NASA headquarters. In April, AT&T President Fred Kappel and NASA Administrator James Webb exchanged a curious series of letters. In a letter of 5 April 1960, Kappel complained that Webb had stated publicly that "NASA [had] yet to receive a firm proposal from any company" to form a communications satellite development partnership with NASA. Kappel recapped AT&T's communications with NASA over the past year and pointed out that, in its Relay proposal, AT&T  had volunteered to share costs, even to contract privately, for rockets and launch facilities.46 Webb replied in a rather unfriendly tone: "I am told that your letter of December 14th was delivered by a number of your associates [James Fisk and George Best], that an extended conference ensued, and that it was made clear that NASA would not permit your company, or any other, to pre-empt the program of the United States in this area."47 In contrast, Glennan's response to the 14 December meeting was that AT&T had proposed "a rather good program."48 The battle lines were being drawn, and AT&T was on the wrong side.
On 12 April 1961, Russian Major Yuri A. Gagarin achieved the first manned orbital flight. A few days later, the Cuban Bay of Pigs debacle ran its ill-fated course. Among the many U.S. reactions to these events was an urge to do something spectacular in space before the Soviet Union. Some suggested that space was the realm of the military, not NASA, the civilian space agency.49 On 20 April 1961, President Kennedy asked Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, in his role as chairman of the Space Council, to recommend a program for the United States to beat the Soviet Union in space. Johnson replied that the United States could probably win a race to the Moon.
As the United States embarked on this race to the Moon, the FCC became embroiled in communications satellite policy. On 19 January 1961, the regulatory agency authorized AT&T to launch an experimental communications satellite system. Its only previous significant communications satellite action had been to reopen docket 11866 (known as "above 890," because it related to the general allocation of frequencies above 890 megahertz) in May 1960 (and modified in December 1960 as docket 13522, to address only frequencies for satellite communications), which sought views on the frequencies required for space communications. In response to what seemed to be a rush to decision in the satellite communications arena, the FCC opened docket 14024 in March 1961 to solicit opinions on the "administrative and regulatory problems" associated with commercial satellite communications systems.
The responses to FCC dockets 11866, 13522, and 14024 figured in the testimony given before the House Committee on Science and Astronautics during hearings on communications satellites held 8-10 May 1961. Those hearings again demonstrated the willingness of private industry to invest and build in the field of satellite communications, but the relationship between government and industry had yet to be defined. In his opening remarks, committee chair Overton Brooks (D-LA) set the tone: "The proper relationship between Government and Industry must be defined . . . the most desirable business arrangements should be determined at the earliest possible time."50
The response of General Electric to FCC docket 14024 mirrored that firm's eagerness to join the communications satellite field. The company proposed that the aerospace and communications industries jointly raise $250 million to put the General Electric medium- altitude equatorial system of ten satellites in place using the Atlas-Agena launch vehicle. Another $250 million would be needed to build the ground system. General Electric pointed out that the communications industry had sufficient expertise to build the ground stations, and the aerospace industry had the expertise to build the satellites. General Electric was ready to invest $25 to $50 million of its own money in satellite communications; government support, but not government funding, would be required. As did ITT, General Electric called attention to the need for foreign participation and the apparent capability of the United States to support only one commercial communications satellite system. Moreover, as had all the other presenters except AT&T, General Electric emphasized the importance of avoiding a monopoly.
Lockheed's response to docket 14024 was a proposal for the creation of a new organization, Telesat, to operate a global system of geosynchronous communications satellites, two over the Atlantic Ocean and two over the Pacific Ocean. Communications carriers, other companies, and the general public would own Telesat. Telesat would not have any foreign owners, but foreign organizations would have their own ground stations and might receive an undivided ownership interest in the satellites, but not in Telesat itself. Lockheed foresaw that government subsidy would be advisable during Telesat's early years to reap the prestige benefits of inaugurating a global communications satellite system; moreover, the $200-$315 million system would not be self-supporting until sometime in the mid- to late 1970s.
Meanwhile, NASA attempted to sort out satellite communications policy and the fulfillment of Kennedy's wish to see the United States beat the Soviet Union in space. On 12 May 1961, shortly after the premature closing of the House hearings, NASA Associate Administrator Robert Seamans presented NASA Administrator James Webb and Deputy Administrator Hugh Dryden with a summary of the accelerated NASA program proposed in response to the president's desire to beat the Soviets. It included communications satellites, as well as a manned lunar landing and meteorology projects.51 Memoranda between Seamans and NASA counsel Robert Nunn raised the question of why NASA should develop an operational communications satellite system. As Nunn pointed out, "the communications industry continues to affirm its own clear intent and obvious ability to achieve the same objective."52
In any case, NASA was proceeding with its own experimental communications satellite program and, in carrying it out, relied on the expertise of private industry. On 18 May 1961, NASA awarded RCA the contract to build Relay, a medium-altitude repeater satellite. Ironically, RCA had stated publicly its preference for a twenty-four-hour satellite. Although NASA did not announce the standings, the ranking apparently was (1) RCA, (2) Hughes, (3) Philco, and (4) AT&T. Some NASA participants in the evaluation process expressed surprise; they had expected the AT&T proposal to be better, if not the best. The deciding factor was apparently the RCA ten-watt traveling-wave tube. AT&T was not entirely out of the game, however.
The relationship between government (NASA) and industry still had not been set forth when President Kennedy made his speech of 25 May 1961 that challenged the nation to land an American on the Moon before the end of the decade. That speech included satellite communications as a NASA goal.53 On 15 June 1961, Kennedy directed  the Space Council to study communications satellite policy. The FCC was delaying its decision on government-industry joint ventures until the first week of July, after the Space Council study. Discussions between NASA and AT&T over patent policy reached a conclusion that pleased the FCC commissioner and the assistant attorney general. This policy not only gave the government royalty-free use of AT&T patents, but also licensing rights.54 NASA Administrator Webb had a clear vision of the appropriate spheres of responsibility of NASA and the FCC, with which NASA had a memorandum of understanding. The FCC was "to take proper action on the problem of organizing the resources of private industry in such a manner as to meet governmental requirements and conform to public policy," while NASA had "the job of developing the space technology which any private organization authorized by the FCC will be able to utilize to provide communication services to the public."55
The House communications satellite hearings, suspended in May at the request of NASA, resumed on 13 July 1961. The purpose of the hearings, in the words of committee chair Overton Brooks, was, among others, "to determine the extent that private industry should participate in the space communication program." The testimony of Webb is illustrative of his attitude toward industry involvement in communications satellites. When questioned about the financial contributions of private industry, Webb responded that "there are certain things no private industry can undertake on its own at this particular stage of the game."56 This is a strange comment. As we have seen, AT&T was willing to fund communications satellite research and development by itself, and General Electric and Lockheed had formed "joint-venture corporations" to develop and operate a commercial communications satellite system.
Webb seems to have been committed to private ownership of the satellite communications system, preferably by a joint venture of international communications carriers as proposed by the FCC. Webb also seems to have been committed to NASA control of space policy and space technology issues. His stand on offering launch services to industry, furthermore, seemed to have shifted. In May 1961, he was willing to launch an AT&T satellite, but he had not been willing the month before when his acrimonious correspondence with Kappel took place.
Webb told Fred Kappel of AT&T that NASA would sell him launch services. Shortly thereafter, NASA announced the award of the Relay contract to RCA; then on 27 July 1961, NASA and AT&T entered into agreements for the reimbursable launch of Telstar. On 11 August 1961, NASA signed a sole-source contract with Hughes to build Syncom, its first geosynchronous satellite.57
By the end of 1961, two passive experiments (NASA/AT&T's Echo balloon and DoD's Project West Ford), two medium-altitude active experiments (NASA/RCA's Relay and AT&T's Telstar), and two geosynchronous experiments DoD/General Electric's Advent and NASA/Hughes's Syncom) were under way. All technological options were in play. General William M. Thames, then commander of the Army Advent Management Agency, testified before Congress that the military Advent satellite system could handle all traffic needs and would be ready in 1965. Webb and Dr. Edward C. Welsh, Executive Director of the Space Council, both testified at the same hearing that only one system would be viable. Webb stated that "you simply cannot start two or three communication satellite  systems. . . . Therefore, the Government policy has been to say we will create the conditions under which one system will be established."58
The situation called for some policy direction from the White House. That policy was shaped by Edward Welsh, former legislative assistant to Senator Stuart Symington and, since 1951, a member of the Senate Aeronautics and Space Sciences Committee who had helped draft the Space Act of 1958. Welsh's experience made him somewhat a political partisan and a strong advocate of "trust-busting." Soon after his appointment by Kennedy to the Space Council, Welsh suggested that the communications satellite policy was a natural for the Space Council. In the next year, he dedicated more staff time to this issue than any other. Welsh influenced Kennedy's 25 May 1961 speech that committed the United States to building a global communications satellite system.
Kennedy wanted the system to be global, be sensitive to the needs of the developing world, and serve the public interest. In response to a request from the president to prepare a policy recommendation aimed at accelerating the creation of an operational communications satellite, Welsh drafted a statement favoring private ownership and control and circulated it among staff members from DoD, NASA, the State Department, the Atomic Energy Commission, the FCC, the Justice Department, the Office of Civil Defense Management, the Bureau of the Budget, and the Office of the Science Advisor. Even before the paper was published, Welsh publicly stated that the Space Council did not favor government operation of the satellite system.59
After Welsh presented the paper at the Space Council meeting of 5 July 1961, President Kennedy released the paper on 24 July. The paper proposed placing responsibility for the communications satellite system in private hands. It assigned government the roles of regulation, negotiation with foreign countries and organizations, research and development, and launch services. Subsequently, several liberal members of Congress sent Kennedy a letter suggesting that the government avoid any decision that might result in a satellite communications monopoly.60
In November 1961, President Kennedy asked the Space Council to prepare a plan for implementing the program outlined in the 24 July 1961 statement. Welsh decided that implementation would require legislation, so in September, he hired Dr. Charles S. Sheldon from the Congressional Research Service as a technical expert. Sheldon, the son of an engineer, had a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard. He and Welsh were the primary writers of the proposed legislation. Welsh felt, as Glennan had before him, that a policy vacuum on communications satellites existed. Welsh also was concerned that, if the proposed system were to be privately owned and operated, it must be competitive, not a monopoly. The final version of the plan went to the White House on 30 November 1961.
At this point, Congress began to play a role in shaping communications satellite policy. The House had studied the issue as early as 1959, when its Committee on Science and Astronautics held hearings on "Satellites for World Communications."61 In early 1962,  three communications satellite bills were introduced into the Senate: the Kerr bill (S. 2650, introduced 11 January 1962); the administration bill (S. 2814, 27 January 1962); and the Kefauver bill (S. 2890, 26 February 1962).62
The Kerr bill, which resembled the FCC position, favored ownership by a consortium of existing communications carriers. The bill would mandate the creation of a new corporation capitalized at $500 million. Shares, at $100,000 each, would be sold in minimum lots of five to U.S. common carriers authorized by the FCC. The Kerr bill would prohibit AT&T from going its own way, but would do little to minimize AT&T's domination of international telephony, as the firm probably would buy a plurality, if not a majority, of the shares. Senator Robert Kerr also was a cosponsor of the administration bill, so it is unclear how committed he was to his own bill. Delbert D. Smith, a lawyer who studied these events, has suggested that Kerr might have been trying to make the Administration bill look like the middle ground between carrier ownership (his bill) and government ownership (the Kefauver bill).63
The Kefauver bill, inspired by that Senator Estes Kefauver's distrust of industry's--especially AT&T's--monopolistic tendencies, called for a communications satellite system owned and operated by the government. Kefauver supported his proposal with three main arguments. First, private ownership would evolve into a monopoly. Second, the initial system would of necessity consist of low-altitude satellites inferior to geosynchronous satellites; investment in this initial inferior system would delay the creation of a superior geosynchronous system. Third, because satellites were developed at government expense, the benefits should accrue to the public, not to profit-making private corporations.
The administration bill steered a middle course between the Kefauver and Kerr bills. It assumed that private ownership maximized efficiency. As did the Kerr bill, the Administration bill called for the formation of a new corporation, but one with a broad ownership base. Not only international carriers, but other corporations and private citizens could purchase shares. The administration bill also placed limits on the number of shares any single entity could own. Foreign organizations could own shares, too, as well as ground stations.64
Despite Kefauver's arguments, it is obvious in hindsight that the bill did not delay geosynchronous systems; Early Bird, Comsat's first satellite, launched in March 1965, had a geosynchronous orbit. It is also obvious that the costs of satellite development were borne by both government and industry. AT&T paid for the development of Telstar and reimbursed NASA for the launch services. Hughes paid the development costs of the protoflight Syncom satellite, although NASA underwrote the construction of the actual flight models. Only Relay was entirely a government-funded satellite, but the remarkably short time between contract award and launch suggests that RCA had been spending its own money for some time. Only launch vehicles were completely funded by the government, and, given AT&T's willingness to pay for launches, this did not have to be the case.
The introduction of these three bills in the Senate made it clear that AT&T's investment in satellite manufacturing was wasted. The operating system was to be either sponsored or entirely operated by the government, with no place for AT&T satellites. AT&T, though, had spent more money on ground stations than on satellites, because the large number of satellites in low orbit proposed for AT&T's Telstar system favored the building  of simple satellites and complex ground stations. The horn-and-maser AT&T ground station design, however, lost out to cheaper designs using parabolic dish antennas and parametric amplifiers. Telstar would not bring home any profits, and AT&T could not fall back on just pride in its performance. Problems discovered in testing caused AT&T to request a launch delay.65 AT&T's pride was taking a lot of hits.
AT&T also suffered from the restrictions placed on it as a prerequisite for participating in the communications satellite program. NASA had rights, including licensing rights, to all AT&T communications satellite inventions after May 1961. NASA, not AT&T, would undertake all negotiations with foreign government telecommunications administrations. NASA would coordinate all tests and all publicity. AT&T found none of these restrictions acceptable, but the firm was more interested in building satellites and ground stations than in debating terms.
As AT&T's star fell, Hughes's rose. That firm had redesigned the Syncom satellite to accommodate its launch on a Thor-Delta from Cape Canaveral. In the process, Syncom grew from thirty to sixty pounds. The added weight permitted the addition of new design features. Syncom was a joint program of NASA and DoD. Although the Syncom communications capability was often disparaged as "only one voice-channel," it had one advantage over Relay and Telstar: the Syncom transponder could be used continuously, not just when the batteries were fully charged. The lightweight, low-power Hughes traveling-wave tube was a key part of its success.66 Harold Rosen of Hughes and Leonard Jaffe of NASA began discussions concerning potential improvements to Syncom, and in February 1962, Hughes presented its plans to NASA for the Syncom Mark II.67 The Hughes Syncom held great promise. It could be sold to the congressionally approved satellite system operating organization, Comsat, the U.S. military, foreign customers, and perhaps NASA, too.68
In the faceoff between medium-altitude and geosynchronous satellites, the successful launch of AT&T's Telstar on 10 July 1962 demonstrated that medium-altitude communications satellites were eminently practical. However, this did nothing to improve AT&T's chances of operating such a system, for by then it was clear that Congress, out of fear of creating a monopoly, would not allow AT&T to do so.
Following the introduction of the three communications satellite bills in the Senate, Congressman Oren Harris introduced H.R. 11040, which was identical to the Kerr bill, in the House on 2 April 1962. The bill passed the House 354 to 9 on 3 May.69 Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Aeronautical and Space Sciences reported favorably on Kerr's bill on 2 April 1962.70 The Senate Commerce Committee then reported favorably on the Kerr bill, and it was brought before the full Senate on 14 June 1962.
The movement toward private operation by a consortium of communications carriers seemed to be gathering momentum, although Senator Kefauver and his allies attacked the bill for several days. On 21 June 1962, the bill was withdrawn to allow other business to be completed. When the debate on the bill resumed a month later on 26 July, a different climate prevailed. On 10 July 1962, AT&T had succeeded in launching the first Telstar satellite.
 After receiving the approval of the Foreign Relations Committee on 10 August 1962, the Kerr bill came before the full Senate, where it immediately became the subject (again) of a filibuster by Senators Estes Kefauver (D-TN), Albert Gore (D-TN), Wayne Morse (D-OR), Russell Long (D-LA), Ralph Yarborough (D-TX), Maurine Neuberger (D-NY), Ernest Gruening (D-AK), and Paul Douglas (D-IL). In an effort to end the filibuster, the Senate passed a historic cloture motion on 14 August 1962 by a vote of sixty-three to twenty-seven. The Senate passed the amended House bill by a vote of sixty-six to eleven on 17 August; ten days later, the House passed the amended bill. President Kennedy signed it into law as the Communications Satellite Act on 31 August 1962.71
The Communications Satellite Act mandated that the government create a private corporation, the Communications Satellite Corporation, now commonly known as Comsat. On 4 October 1962, President Kennedy named the thirteen members (called  Incorporators) of the temporary Comsat board of directors: six lawyers, three financiers, one labor representative, and one engineer. Beardsley Graham, the engineer, had worked at the Stanford Research Institute and Lockheed, where he had been active in satellite communications studies carried out in partnership with GTE and RCA. The conclusion of the Lockheed studies was that the main issues were business, regulatory, and international relations, not technical. Graham also was convinced that geosynchronous systems would be in place in the near future.72
The first task of Comsat was to incorporate, which it did in the District of Columbia on 1 February 1963. Its second task was to issue stock, perhaps worth as much as $500 million.73 The stock would have to be sold before any election of the board of directors. Before any stock was sold, however, Comsat obtained FCC authorization to borrow up to $5 million from banks, including Continental Illinois, of which David Kennedy, an Incorporator, was an officer.
Meanwhile, the board of directors was undergoing some key changes in personnel. During January 1963, Chairman Philip Graham resigned. The following month, the corporation announced that Leo D. Welch of Standard Oil Company (New Jersey) had been named chairman and that Under Secretary of the Air Force Joseph V. Charyk had been named president of Comsat. Welch's background was in international finance; Charyk's background was technical and included significant experience in reconnaissance satellites.74
In addition to the standard problems associated with getting a company off the ground, Comsat had three major concerns: (1) satisfying Congress; (2) maintaining good relations with the Europeans; and (3) deciding on what the eventual operational system would look like. Congress was unhappy with the high salaries paid to Welch and Charyk ($125,000 and $80,000 per year, respectively), their luxurious offices in a Washington mansion (Tregaron), and the general uncertainty involved in the enterprise.75 The Europeans were not certain whether they wanted to be part of any American system. In December 1962, the Conference of European Postal and Telecommunications Administrations formed a committee to study the issue of joining an American-led global communications system. While recognizing that the majority of international telecommunications traffic originated or terminated in the United States, the Europeans were anxious to gain maximum control and make equipment sales.76 Deciding on Comsat's operational system--geosynchronous versus medium-altitude--was a more complicated problem.
The choice of a Comsat system was becoming ever more urgent. In July 1963, the FCC made public its concern that Comsat "no longer has definite plans for an early issue of stock." The appointed Comsat board was in the position of making decisions about the future of the company, which should have been made by the shareholders. Comsat responded by suggesting that decisions had to be made about the system configuration before issuing stock. Until a basic program was outlined, it was unclear how much equity capital should be acquired, and it was uncertain how to categorize risks, which was a legal requirement.77
Support for a geosynchronous Comsat operating system had been growing for some time. In September and October 1962, the Applications Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science and Astronautics had held hearings on "Commercial Communications Satellites" for the purpose, in the words of Congressman Ken Hechler (D-WV), of determining "the most effective and least expensive system for commercial development"78--specifically, whether the system should be in geosynchronous or medium-altitude orbit. Representatives of Hughes, NASA, AT&T, the office of the director of Defense Research and Engineering (to which ARPA reported), the State Department, and the U.S. Information Agency gave testimony; by far the longest presentations were those by Hughes and NASA.
Making the case for a geosynchronous system were Fred Adler, Hughes Space Systems Division Manager, and Gordon Murphy, Syncom Program Manager. It seems that Murphy startled the committee members when he stated that in addition to the NASA contract for three Syncom satellites, a NASA study contract for advanced satellites also was in place. Furthermore, Murphy declared, "we expect that the later contract will lead to an initial operational communication satellite demonstration in the first half of 1964. We call the advanced satellite Syncom Mark II."
Murphy outlined the work conducted at Hughes from 1959 to 1961 on satellite design and testing, all with company funds. As a result, Hughes could launch its first Syncom only 17 months after signing a contract. This was less than RCA's 19 months from contract startup to launch Relay, but more than AT&T's 14 months from contract startup to launch Telstar. However, Murphy told the committee that Hughes needed a NASA commitment by March 1963 to build flight vehicles, as well as a NASA commitment to build ground stations. The Telstar, Relay, and Syncom ground stations were all owned by others. Murphy's major argument for a geosynchronous system was that it could be installed sooner than a medium-altitude system because fewer satellites would have to be launched, and the simplicity of the ground stations allowed them to be installed much more quickly.79
Actual satellite launch experience, however, seemed to favor the medium-altitude satellites, such as Telstar and Relay. The Telstar and Relay satellites had been launched relatively successfully, but Syncom failed after its injection into geosynchronous orbit.80 Most  analysts felt that geosynchronous satellites held the most promise. Syncom subsequently showed that geosynchronous orbit was attainable, but the satellite's light weight constrained the communications payload to a single telephone circuit, which was significantly less than the wideband capabilities of Relay and Telstar.
Support for a geosynchronous system also began to appear in the literature. For example, in September 1963, Siegfried Reiger and Joseph Charyk of Comsat published articles in the journal of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics that outlined the system's technical choices. In summarizing the problem of orbit selection, Reiger admitted that most engineers agreed that a medium-altitude system could be made operational sooner than a geostationary system, "[b]ut there also appears to be general agreement that in the long run the [geo-]stationary-satellite concept offers the greatest promise and growth potential." Reiger made the point that insufficient geostationary satellite experience existed to evaluate the problems associated with this orbit.81
Meanwhile, NASA continued to underwrite Hughes's Syncom experimental geosynchronous satellite program. Within a year of receiving a sole-source contract from NASA to build three Syncom satellites, Hughes Aircraft Company engineers began studies of an Advanced Syncom, a geosynchronous satellite whose payload would support thousands of voice circuits rather than the "single voice circuit" of its predecessor Syncoms. The traveling-wave tubes would be more powerful; the antenna would direct most of its energy toward the Earth's surface; and the satellite transponders would allow more than one ground station to use the same transponder at the same time.82
NASA's funding of Syncom did not go unnoticed, however. Congressional objections to the spending of taxpayer dollars for the benefit of a private corporation, Comsat, made NASA's job particularly difficult. In an effort to allow more time for Syncom 2 to prove itself, and to persuade Congress of the benefits of Advanced Syncom, NASA extended the Hughes study contract another two months in June 1963.83 The successful launch of Syncom on 26 July 1963 made it clear that geosynchronous satellites were practical. Complex ground station problems were solved with apparent ease; the on-board jets successfully corrected the satellite's drift and positioned it over the Atlantic Ocean, ready to carry traffic.84
Hughes was extremely active in attempting to find additional markets for Syncom. One idea, resurrected from a suggestion made by Hughes's Donald D. Williams in 1959, before Harold Rosen convinced him communications was a better application, was to use Syncom as a navigational system.85 More immediate was the unsuccessful attempt to persuade DoD that the Hughes geosynchronous satellite system performed better than its medium-altitude competitor.86 More productive were Hughes's discussions with Robert R. Gilruth, Apollo Program Manager and Director of the Marshall Space Flight Center, to  use Syncom for communications links among Project Apollo's widespread tracking stations.87 Attempts to find additional markets accelerated in the wake of the news that NASA would not pursue the Advanced Syncom flight program. As NASA Administrator James Webb thought, Congress would not allow NASA to fund hardware development because of the perception that NASA was subsidizing Comsat.88
Meanwhile, Comsat still was trying to choose the base satellite system orbit. Among the announcements the firm made at the end of 1963 was a request for proposals for a satellite design, either medium-altitude orbit or geosynchronous orbit, which would constitute Comsat's basic system. No decision on the basic system would be made until after the designs had been evaluated.89
The choice of communications satellite system orbit was not easy. AT&T and the military were convinced that medium-altitude satellites were best, while many others believed that high-altitude, geosynchronous satellites were preferable. NASA seemed to be leaning toward both geosynchronous and medium-altitude satellites. For example, in April 1962, Milton Stoller, director of NASA's Office of Applications, stated that "when all the technology is in hand, it will be the synchronous-orbit satellites which will be the most attractive to us."90 However, in September 1962, Leonard Jaffe, director of the communications group under Stoller, suggested that a medium-altitude system similar to Telstar would be best.91 Then, on 25 February 1963, NASA announced its intention to concentrate on geostationary satellites. All of these opinions and decisions complicated Comsat's task of selecting a satellite operating system.
The Comsat request for proposals received four responses in early February 1964. One design group consisted of AT&T teamed with RCA, while another had TRW teamed with ITT. Hughes and Philco individually submitted the other two proposals.92 Neither the Philco, the AT&T-RCA, nor the TRW-ITT proposal was for a geosynchronous system. Hughes had the only geosynchronous satellite proposal.93
Many experts assumed that the initial commercial system would be placed in a medium-altitude orbit. In December 1963, Hughes proposed a commercial version of Syncom, which would be ready for launch in early 1965 and which could serve both experimental and operational needs. Without committing to a geosynchronous orbit for the basic system, whose characteristics were to be determined later, Comsat accepted the Hughes proposal and launched an "early bird" prior to making a final decision on system type. This "early bird" would consist of "a synchronous satellite orbited on an experimental-....
....operational basis in 1965, with a bandwidth and power which can provide a capability for television or, alternatively, for facsimile, data, or telegraphic message traffic or for up to 240 two-way telephone channels."94
Comsat considered Early Bird, as the satellite came to be called, as both experimental and commercial, but not the final system choice. Comsat proposed to make the satellite available for commercial use after conducting tests with it. Part of the Early Bird rationale was the success of Syncom (launched 26 July 1963) and the resulting desire to experiment with a similar satellite operating at so-called commercial frequencies (at four and six gigahertz).
Before Early Bird construction could begin, however, Comsat needed FCC approval. The FCC was not comfortable with Comsat's intent to use the AT&T Andover ground station. It preferred that Comsat own and operate its own ground stations.95 On 4 March 1964, Comsat requested permission from the FCC to launch Early Bird in early 1965 into geostationary orbit over the Atlantic Ocean. The eighty-five-pound (38.6-kilogram) satellite was to provide 240 voice circuits or one television channel. AT&T planned to lease  100 circuits on Early Bird to handle peak telephone loads and for cable replacement. In April, the FCC approved the launch of Early Bird.96
Before the launch of its Early Bird satellite, Comsat received a strong vote of confidence from the business world. The first five million shares of Comsat stock (at $20 each) were sold exclusively to communications common carriers. By the 23 March 1964 deadline, more than 200 carriers had notified the FCC of their interest in purchasing Comsat shares, and by 26 May 1964 (the official deadline for bidding on shares), AT&T had offered to purchase $85 million of the $100 million worth of shares reserved for communications carriers. Because the stock was oversubscribed, AT&T was permitted to buy stock worth only $57.9 million, or 29 percent of all shares. ITT bought stock worth $21 million (11 percent); GTE took $7 million (4 percent); and RCA got $5 million (3 percent). Other carriers bought the remaining 5 percent. The Comsat charter stipulated that the communications carriers elect six members of the board of directors and that each holder of 8 percent of total shares earned a director's seat. Consequently, AT&T had at least three seats guaranteed, and ITT had at least two seats.97
The second set of five million shares were sold to the public, with the FCC responsible for apportioning sales. When these shares were offered on 2 June 1964, the public snapped them up. Comsat stock was very popular--so popular that the size of purchases was limited and, as a result, Comsat stock ownership was dispersed. The average public shareholder held only twenty-seven shares. Of the 130,000 shareholders, about 120,000 held less than 100 shares. As a result, there was upward pressure on the stock price (from $20 to $48 per share by mid-August 1964).98
As Comsat prepared its experimental Early Bird program and undertook a search for the final satellite system design, questions regarding the use of the commercial system by the military and foreign organizations had to be resolved. As early as 1960, well before the passage of the Communications Satellite Act, international arrangements started when AT&T suggested the possibility of a satellite program to its foreign cable partners. Both AT&T and NASA continued those discussions throughout 1961 and 1962. While the Communications Satellite Act of 1962 was under consideration by Congress, the Europeans deliberated their options.
 They decided that they could maximize their benefits from the U.S. satellite program by negotiating as a bloc. In December 1962, the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunications Administrations began formal studies to establish a basis for discussions with the United States. After a series of formal and informal discussions among members of the European Conference on Satellite Communications, the Europeans agreed that a consortium, rather than the series of bilateral agreements preferred by the U.S. State Department, was the best approach, with Comsat serving as the consortium manager. During meetings held in Washington, 21-25 July 1964, agreements were reached that created the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (known as Intelsat), thereby establishing a framework for the international use of communications satellites.99
While Intelsat furnished a framework for international satellite communications, the question of military use remained unanswered. The partial ownership and operation of Intelsat by foreign agencies determined that Intelsat could not provide communications services for the U.S. military. Therefore, at a press conference on 15 July 1964, Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara announced that DoD would build its own satellite communications system. Both Leo Welch and Joseph Charyk of Comsat attempted, in letters to McNamara, to "keep the door open" for the military, but Comsat, at least for the moment, was not committed to the medium-altitude communications satellites preferred by the Pentagon.100
On 25 January 1965, Comsat--not Congress--reopened the issue of providing communications satellite services to the military. Comsat proposed launching twenty-four Hughes satellites, similar to Early Bird, eight at a time. Comsat blamed the Pentagon for the previous debacle, and they wanted to try again. Philco, the winner of the 1963 DoD satellite contract competition, had not been able to proceed for more than a year because of Comsat's efforts. Philco was annoyed that the whole process had started over again. Comsat proposed a sole-source contract with Hughes, leaving Philco out. Philco protested to the FCC on the basis that the Communications Satellite Act required competitive bidding. Eventually, Philco built the Pentagon's communications satellites, but Comsat's political moves delayed launch from 1964 to 1966.101
As Comsat carried out this attempt to capture military customers, Hughes was beginning to gain momentum in the competition to be the primary provider of communications satellites. The year 1964 had begun with a contract for two geosynchronous satellites (model HS-303, the Early Bird) for Comsat. In March, NASA had awarded Hughes a contract for five Applications Technology Satellites, and in August, Syncom 3 was launched into geostationary orbit. Syncom 3 relayed television images from the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games to the United States via the Navy ground station at Point Mugu, California, and a new ground station at Kashima, northeast of Tokyo. Although the transmission was not up to "commercial quality," no one really noticed. Many wondered then and later if space was the right place to spend human resources, and many critics could not discriminate between the practical and the prestigious.102
 Comsat was "bullish" on Hughes, but it still was not clear whether the basic Comsat system would be geosynchronous. Syncom had been successful, and orbital and attitude control seemed to be much simpler than originally thought. However, telephone companies (generally) experimented only with the medium-altitude Telstar and Relay satellites because Syncom used military, not commercial, frequencies. Comsat stock, selling for almost three times the initial offering price, was constantly moving; no one knew what was going to happen in the end. Early Bird was eagerly anticipated.
U.S. and European demand for Early Bird circuits was building. AT&T wanted to use 100 of the satellite's 240 circuits, while Canada, Britain, France, and West Germany also were anxious to participate.103 NASA was responsible for the launch, but except for basic tracking services, the space agency had no responsibilities after placing the spacecraft in orbit. Comsat personnel performed all the orbital and control functions. Thus, as prescribed by the Communications Satellite Act, NASA provided launch services, but Comsat was in charge.104
Early Bird was launched on 6 April 1965. The spacecraft was almost identical to Syncom 3, but it used commercial (six and four gigahertz) rather than military (eight and two gigahertz) frequencies for uplink and downlink communications. Similar to Syncom 3, Early Bird's orbit was geostationary, not just geosynchronous--that is, its orbit was in the plane of the equator, not inclined to it.105 The eighty-five-pound (38.6-kilogram) Early Bird was a more sophisticated spacecraft than the original twenty-five-pound (11.3-kilogram) "commercial communications satellite" that Harold Rosen, Donald Williams, and Tom Hudspeth had envisioned in 1959, but it clearly originated in the modified design they had developed in 1960.106
Formal Early Bird communications experiments began on 10 April 1965; commercial service began on 1 June. Early Bird's 240 voice-channel capacity almost equaled the 317-channel capacity of all existing Atlantic telephone cables--and it cost much less! The economics of Early Bird were astounding. The most up-to-date underwater telephone cable carried fewer channels and cost about ten times as much the satellite. Early Bird and its launch vehicle cost Comsat around $7 million, a small fraction of its $200 million capitalization.
Despite the demand for Early Bird telephone channels, an article in U.S. News & World Report emphasized transatlantic television as the most "visible" capability of the new satellite.107 The linking of Europe and America in a global television extravaganza on 2 May 1965 perhaps fed that image of the satellite. Before the launch of Early Bird, though, Hughes had announced that the technology to build a television broadcast satellite was available. Harold Rosen of Hughes suggested that Arthur C. Clarke's 1945 dream of a television broadcast from space could be made a reality with the NASA Applications Technology Satellite program.
 On 13 May 1965, ABC television filed with the FCC for permission to launch a television relay satellite--the first domestic communications satellite. Comsat responded, however, that Congress had granted it a monopoly on satellite communications, but it would be glad to provide a relay service for ABC. The potential market for a satellite television relay was huge. Estimates of AT&T revenues for relaying television on terrestrial circuits was about $50 million per year. Nonetheless, telephone traffic was to dominate Comsat and Intelsat satellites for many years. Even so, it was clear that television, not telephony, captured the public's attention and began to give rise to the notion of the "global village."108
Meanwhile, the scramble for Early Bird telephone circuits was under way. In June 1965, AT&T filed with the FCC for permission to lease 100 voice channels from Comsat. AT&T was still negotiating with European telecommunications administrations, but it expected to have thirty-six links with Britain, twelve with West Germany, ten with France, and more with other countries. RCA filed for thirty circuits, ITT wanted forty-one, and Western Union International sought fifty-five. In all, Comsat had requests for 226 out of Early Bird's 240 circuits.
Commercial service officially was not to start until 27 June 1965, but the FCC granted emergency permission to begin commercial service after the failure of one of the transatlantic cables days earlier. The FCC then allocated voice circuits to AT&T (seventy-five circuits), ITT (ten), Western Union International (ten), RCA (ten), and Canada (six). AT&T managed to find partners for sixty of its circuits, but only one other circuit was in operation: an RCA circuit to Germany. European stations were not yet capable of handling the full traffic load, so the allocation of all circuits was held in abeyance. A long article in the Wall Street Journal bemoaned the slowness of the Europeans.109 The Europeans were making it clear that international telecommunications required two equal partners. They were not going to tolerate a global satellite communications system dominated by the United States.110
European developments aside, Comsat was about to acquire a major domestic customer. Negotiations with NASA would provide Project Apollo with high-quality, wideband, global communications systems linking NASA's tracking stations in real time with the Houston Mission Control Center. This led to Comsat filing an application with the FCC on 30 September 1965 to build and launch four geosynchronous communications satellites to provide NASA those services. Comsat proposed to buy those four satellites from Hughes at a total cost of $11.7 million, while NASA assumed a total liability (monies the agency would pay if it did not use the system) of $10.5 million for the entire network. At  a time when only one-fourth of the Early Bird capacity was being used, Comsat had acquired a major new customer.111
On the last day of 1965, Comsat released its first quarterly report, which listed revenues of $966,000 from Early Bird operations. Given that these revenues were gathered during the first half of the life of an investment in excess of $7 million, those figures were quite disappointing. On the other hand, Early Bird was primarily an experiment, and it had been an extremely successful experiment. Comsat still had almost $188 million in cash out of its initial $200 million capitalization, and it had contracted to provide Atlantic and Pacific Ocean service to support the Apollo program.112
Still, no decision on the basic Comsat system had been made. Comsat had pushed forward with Early Bird (Intelsat I), an experimental operational system, and Intelsat II, the special-purpose system launched to provide NASA communications services. When Comsat granted the Early Bird geosynchronous contract to Hughes, the communications company also awarded two study contracts for medium-altitude-orbit satellites to two teams, AT&T-RCA and TRW-ITT. The assumption beneath those study contracts was that a medium-altitude experimental system might follow Early Bird some time in 1966. However, events were unfolding too swiftly for that kind of experimentation; furthermore, experts generally assumed that Telstar and Relay had proven the medium-altitude case. It was time to choose.
Comsat had a variety of system designs from which to choose. Hughes, the builder of Early Bird and Intelsat II, as well as Comsat's partner in the venture to supply military communications satellite services, proposed an "advanced Early Bird," the geosynchronous HS-304. AT&T and RCA, the builders of Telstar and Relay, proposed a system of eighteen satellites in random polar orbits. These two firms held one-third of Comsat's shares, and AT&T was the dominant telecommunications company. TRW and ITT proposed a controlled, or "phased," system of twelve satellites in similar orbits. In May 1965, Comsat's Joseph Charyk announced that the corporation was no longer considering the "random" approach.113
Then, on 17 August 1965, Comsat, on behalf of the Interim Communications Satellite Committee, issued a request for proposals for an "advanced satellite" (Intelsat III), the basic satellite system design. The request for proposals stipulated that the satellite should be suitable for use in either a geosynchronous orbit or in a phased system at altitudes between 6,000 and 12,000 miles (9,656 and 19,312 kilometers), although preferably applicable to both orbital types. The request for proposals further specified a capacity of 1,000 two-way...
....voice circuits, a five-year lifetime, a weight of approximately 240 pounds (109 kilograms), two repeaters, a directional antenna, and multiple access capability. RCA, TRW, and Hughes submitted bids. On 16 December 1965, Comsat announced that it was negotiating with TRW for at least six Intelsat III satellites at a cost of approximately $20 million. TRW had offered a design capable of operating at both medium and geosynchronous altitudes. Comsat still had not decided which orbit to use.114
On 29 December 1965, again on behalf of Intelsat, Comsat issued a new request for proposals for design studies for its fourth-generation satellites (Intelsat IV). These would have a capacity of 6,000 voice circuits (or ten TV channels) and a five-year lifetime, and they would weigh less than 2,300 pounds (1,043 kilograms). These satellites would be geosynchronous. Comsat had finally chosen a system!115
Arthur C. Clarke could be proud, but so could John R. Pierce, Harold A. Rosen, Donald D. Williams, Tom Hudspeth, Sid Metzger, Siegfried Reiger, Leonard Jaffe, and the hundreds of other engineers who had helped to make commercial satellite communications a reality. Political forces may have determined the form of the final system, and economic forces had provided much of the impetus, but none of these forces would have produced the global communications satellite system without the efforts of the engineers and technicians who envisioned, developed, demonstrated, and deployed the "billion dollar technology."
All of the technologies for communications satellites had existed in some form since at least the end of World War II when Arthur C. Clarke wrote his Wireless World article. Most, especially the electronics technologies, were relatively mature by 1955 when John R. Pierce wrote his article for Jet Propulsion. Missiles, the critical enabling technology, arrived on stage on 4 October 1957. In the words of Pierce: "The necessary spurs to concrete action [on communications satellites] came with the successful launching of Sputnik I by the USSR."116
Equally important, the international telecommunications market was booming in the late 1950s and could provide sufficient revenues to underwrite a "billion dollar technology." AT&T was ready to finance a global system out of its own funds. General Electric and Lockheed, probably in pursuit of satellite sales, were anxious to form a consortium to share the risk. Hughes, GTE, and ITT were anxious to discover a way around AT&T's dominant position in the telecommunications market.
Meanwhile, the U.S. government seemed to have many minds during the Eisenhower administration. While the president himself seemed to have been wholly in favor of private (AT&T) development and ownership of a global satellite communications system, others within the administration and civil service were less enthusiastic. Some felt that AT&T was monopolistic; others believed that satellite communications was something government should do. The Kennedy administration was less committed to private ownership and more committed to the potential prestige of a government-sponsored program. The Bay of Pigs and the flight of Gagarin in the spring of 1961 finally tilted government away from private development of communications satellites, thereby guaranteeing that AT&T would not be able to dominate satellite communications.
Prior to the government takeover of communications satellite development in 1961, private industry had undertaken extensive development using its own funds. Hughes had built and tested a Syncom prototype. AT&T had built large antennas for the Echo program, had designed Telstar, and had built a few prototype Telstar components. If other companies were not spending the millions of dollars invested by Hughes and AT&T, they nonetheless were pursuing communications satellite and ground station technology with their own resources.
In spite of the Pentagon's lack of direct involvement in commercial communications satellite development, the military market allowed commercial manufacturers to develop the expertise that would have allowed them to compete with AT&T in the early days and with Hughes later on. General Electric based its attempt to enter the commercial communications satellite business in the early 1960s on its experience with the military's Advent program. Despite this early work, General Electric did not launch a communications satellite until 1978. The Japanese Broadcast Satellite built by General Electric was similar to Advent in many ways, albeit a far more sophisticated version. General Electric later built the DSCS III series for DoD, and after purchasing RCA, the company allowed RCA's Astro Division to continue building communications satellites, while General Electric's Space Division concentrated on military and Earth-observing markets. RCA, after being out of the market from the last Relay (1964) until the launch of Satcom F-1 (1975), was very successful in the U.S. domestic satellite market.
 TRW (through its subsidiary Space Technology Laboratories) entered the communications satellite arena as the systems engineers for the Pentagon's Advent and NASA's Relay programs. In 1965, the company won the Intelsat III series contract. Hughes was favored in that competition, but that firm refused to design a satellite capable of functioning in either a geosynchronous or a medium-altitude orbit. TRW built additional satellites for DoD and NASA, but it was never strong in the commercial market. Lockheed, for its part, lobbied for a place for aerospace companies within the organizational structure that became Comsat. Later, the company attempted to enter the domestic communications satellite market as an operator with CML Satellite Corporation (later Satellite Business Systems), but not until late 1995 did Lockheed begin building communications satellites (for the Iridium low-Earth orbit system).
The most successful manufacturer of communications satellites has been the Hughes Aircraft Company. From early 1959, when the Syncom design began to come together, to 1961, when NASA gave Hughes a sole-source contract for Syncom development, Hughes devised various designs and strategies to enter the communications satellite business as manufacturer, operator, or some combination of the two. One strategy involved allowing NASA to fund satellite development much as the Atomic Energy Commission had funded the development of nuclear power plants. Although only one of many strategies, top management supported it, and it is a fair representation of what took place.
NASA considered the Hughes design faulty, but the agency chose it as the next most promising program when the Kennedy administration made available increased communications satellite research and development funding in mid-1961. Problems with the military Advent program, which had been in trouble from the start, contributed to the joint NASA-DoD decision to proceed with Syncom. Development work on Syncom then led to the commissioning of the Advanced Syncom study program and, somewhat later, to the Intermediate Syncom study program. Advanced Syncom metamorphosed into NASA's Applications Technology Satellite program, while the Intermediate Syncom became the NASA-sponsored Intelsat II series. Between 1963 and 1968, Hughes launched thirteen communications satellites sponsored directly (Syncoms 1 through 3 and Applications Technology Satellites 1 through 5) or indirectly (Early Bird and four flights of the Intelsat II) by NASA.
If the government--namely, Congress and NASA--had not intervened, an AT&T-dominated medium-altitude system would almost certainly have been launched in the mid-1960s. The Hughes design eventually would have flown, but when, and with what success, is problematic. Government intervention had two main effects. First, the success of the Syncom series, and the NASA commitment to the geosynchronous orbit, made geosynchronous the logical choice for a commercial system. Second, the demonstration of the Hughes geosynchronous system gave Hughes an advantage over all of its potential competitors. This advantage grew as NASA persuaded Comsat to launch a version of Syncom using commercial frequencies (Early Bird) and offered to be an anchor tenant for the Intelsat II series. The NASA Applications Technology Satellite kept Hughes at the top of its technical form,117 while Intelsat flew the TRW-built Intelsat III series.
Government intervention had very little effect on the development of new technology, however. Much of the electronics was developed originally at AT&T's Bell Telephone Laboratories and improved later by other companies using internal research and development funds. Hughes developed the basic "spinner" and "gyrostat" technologies using  its own funds. "Three-axis" technology derived not from NASA's sixth Applications Technology Satellite, but rather from the Television Infrared Operational Satellite and Defense Meteorological Satellite Program by RCA and internal studies carried out by Ford and others. Later government programs, notably the Applications Technology Satellite, had large effects on the application of geosynchronous technology. Some of these applications have never quite made it into practice (such as aeronautical communications and tracking), while others (geosynchronous weather satellites, for instance) have become ubiquitous.
There is a place for government involvement in commercial technologies, but myth and conventional wisdom must be examined carefully before taxpayer money is committed to the achievement of improbable goals. The government market has been a stronger force than direct sponsorship of research and development, and it has been stronger than government-funded "demonstrations" in the development of commercial technologies.
1. See, for example, Marcia S. Smith, "Civilian Space Applications: The Privatization Battleground," in Radford Byerly, Jr., ed., Space Policy Reconsidered (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1989), pp. 105-16; Linda R. Cohen and Roger G. Noll, "The Applications Technology Satellite Program," in Linda R. Cohen and Roger G. Noll, eds., The Technology Pork Barrel (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution, 1991), pp. 149-77.
2. John R. Pierce, "Orbital Radio Relays," Jet Propulsion 25 (April 1955): 153-57.
3. Paraphrase of Webb's comments at the 22 September 1964 Program Review, referred to in W.A. Radius to ADA/Shapley, 10 December 1965, Thompson papers, NASA History Office, Washington, DC.
4. Arthur C. Clarke, "Extra-Terrestrial Relays: Can Rocket Stations Give World-Wide Radio Coverage?," Wireless World 51 (October 1945): 305-08.
5. Arthur C. Clarke, The Exploration of Space (New York: Harper & Row, 1952).
6. For example, former NASA Associate Administrator Homer E. Newell credited Clarke as the champion of communications satellite applications. Homer E. Newell, Beyond the Atmosphere: Early Years of Space Science (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4211, 1980), p. 106.
7. Harvey Hall, Early History and Background on Earth Satellites, report no. 405:HH:dr (Washington, DC: Office of Naval Research, 29 November 1957).
8. Douglas Aircraft Corporation formed Project RAND in late 1945 to advise the Army Air Forces. It became an independent organization in 1948.
9. Project RAND, Preliminary Design of an Experimental World-Circling Spaceship, Report No. SM-11827 (Santa Monica, CA: Project RAND, May 1946).
10. Project RAND, Satellite to Surface Communication--Equatorial Orbit, RAND RM-603 (Santa Monica, CA: Project RAND, July 1949); Paul Kecskemeti, The Satellite Rocket Vehicle: Political and Psychological Problems, RAND RM-567, (Santa Monica, CA: Project RAND, 4 October 1950).
11. Walter A. McDougall, . . . The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age (New York: Basic Books, 1985), p. 108.
12. U.S. Department of Commerce, 1984 World's Submarine Telephone Cable Systems (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1984), pp. 90-91, 101, 127. TAT-4 was laid in 1965 amid some discussion of its cost-effectiveness relative to satellites. TAT-5, laid in 1970, provided a dramatic increase in capability to 720 voice circuits for a relatively modest $79 million.
13. Dated events, unless specifically footnoted, are from House Committee on Space and Astronautics, A Chronology of Missile and Astronautic Events [1915-1960], 87th Cong., 1st sess., 1961, HR-67, and subsequent annual NASA publications.
14. John R. Pierce, "Transoceanic Communication by Means of Satellites," Proceedings of the IRE 47 (March 1959): 372-80; John R. Pierce, The Beginnings of Satellite Communications (San Francisco: San Francisco Press, 1968), pp. 9-12.
15. T. Keith Glennan to James H. Douglas, 18 August 1960, NASA History Office.
16. William Pickering, John Pierce, and Harold Rosen all had doctorates in electrical engineering from Caltech.
17. Harold A. Rosen, "Harold Rosen on Satellite Technology Then and Now," Via Satellite 8 (July 1993): 40-43; GM-Hughes Electronics, "History and Accomplishments of the Hughes Aircraft Company," undated, p. 12, Hughes Aircraft Company Archives, El Segundo, CA; Edgar W. Morse, "Preliminary History of Project SYNCOM," 1 September 1964, pp. 32-34, History Notes HHN-14, NASA History Office.
18. House Committee on Science and Astronautics, Satellites for World Communication, 86th Cong., 1st sess., 1959, (86) H1733-3, passim.
19. Ibid., pp. 35-46.
20. Ibid., pp. 47-56.
21. Ibid., pp. 56-62.
22. John R. Pierce, "BTL Tracking Proposal," April 2, 1959; W.C. Jakes, "Visit to Washington on March 31, 1959," 7 April 1959; J.R. Pierce to J.A. Morton, 14 April 1959, AT&T Archives, Warren, NJ.
23. A.S. Jerrems to F.R. Carver, 17 September 1959, Hughes Aircraft Company Archives, El Segundo, CA.
24. S.G. Lutz to A.V. Haeff, "Evaluation of H.A. Rosen's Commercial Satellite Communication Proposal," 1 October 1959, Hughes Aircraft Company Archives.
25. The task force's working members were E.D. Felkel, S.G. Lutz, D.E. Miller, H.A. Rosen, and J.H. Striebel.
26. S.G. Lutz to A.V. Haeff, "Economic Aspects of Satellite Communication," 13 October 1959, Hughes Aircraft Company Archives.
27. S.G. Lutz to A.V. Haeff, "Commercial Satellite Communication Project: Preliminary Report of Study Task Force," 22 October 1959, Hughes Aircraft Company Archives.
28. L.A. Hyland to A.V. Haeff and C.G. Murphy, "Communications Satellite," 26 October 1959, Hughes Aircraft Company Archives.
29. D.D. Williams to D.F. Doody, "Discussions with Dr. Homer J. Stewart, NASA," 23 November 1959, Hughes Aircraft Company Archives.
30. AT&T/BTL, "PROJECT ECHO, Monthly Report No. 3, Contract NASW-110, December 1959," AT&T Archives.
31. Pierce, The Beginnings of Satellite Communications, pp. 15-22; A.C. Dickieson, "TELSTAR: The Management Story," unpublished monograph, Bell Telephone Laboratories, July 1970, pp. 29-32, AT&T Archives.
32. Pierce, The Beginnings of Satellite Communications, pp. 22-23; Dickieson, "TELSTAR," pp. 32-34.
33. Robert K. Roney to A.E. Puckett, "Communications Satellite Review Analysis," 27 January 1960; R.L. Corbo to T.W. Oswald, "Revision of the Communication Satellite Structure and General Arrangement," 29 January 1960; Rosen and Williams, "Commercial Communications Satellite," October 1959, Appendix B, Hughes Aircraft Company Archives.
34. T. Keith Glennan, The Birth of NASA: The Diary of T. Keith Glennan (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4105, 1993), p. 189.
35. Ibid., pp. 189-207.
36. Ibid., pp. 207-10.
37. Ibid., pp. 232-34.
38. Ibid., pp. 278-92.
39. Robert G. Nunn, "Memorandum for the Record," 23 December 1960, Nunn Papers, NASA History Office.
40. House Committee on Science and Astronautics, Defense Space Interests, 87th Cong., 1st sess., 1961, (87) H1857-2, pp. 22-23.
41. George B. Kistiakowsky, A Scientist at the White House (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1976), p. 52.
42. Glennan, The Birth of NASA, p. 303.
43. NASA, Aeronautical and Astronautical Events of 1961 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1962), pp. 4-8; Minutes: Administrator's Staff Meeting, 18 January, 26 January, and 2 February 1961, NASA History Office.
44. Abe Silverstein to Assistant Directors, et al., "Fiscal Year 1963 Preliminary Budget Estimates; additional information concerning," 1 March 1961; A. Silverstein to H. Goett, "Designations for Missions and Payloads," 1 March 1961, NASA History Office.
45. Robert C. Seamans, NASA Exit Interview, Seamans Folder, NASA History Office, pp. 13, 25-26; Hugh L. Dryden, Press Conference transcript, 14 January 1961, NASA History Office, p. 21; James E. Webb to The Director, Bureau of the Budget, 13 March 1961, NASA History Office; Robert L. Rosholt, An Administrative History of NASA, 1958-1963 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1966), p. 195.
46. Fred R. Kappel to James E. Webb, 5 April 1961, copy in John M. Logsdon, gen ed., et al., Exploring the Unknown: Selected Documents in the History of the U.S. Civil Space Program, Volume III: Space Applications (Washington, DC: NASA, forthcoming).
47. James E. Webb to Fred R. Kappel, 8 April 1961, in Logsdon, Exploring the Unknown, Volume III: Space Applications, forthcoming.
48. Glennan, The Birth of NASA, p. 290.
49. This suggestion even came from within NASA. See Don Ostrander to Dr. Seamans, "Reflections on the American Posture in Space," 21 April 1961, NASA History Office.
50. House Committee on Science and Astronautics, Communications Satellites, Part 1, 87th Cong., 1st sess., 1961, (87) H1898-1-A, p. 1.
51. Robert Seamans to James Webb and Hugh Dryden, "Status of planning for an accelerated NASA program," 12 May 1961, NASA History Office.
52. Robert Nunn, "Memorandum for the Associate Administrator," 16 May 1961, Nunn Papers, NASA History Office.
53. NASA News Release 61-112, "Statement by James E. Webb, Administrator," and NASA News Release 61-115, "Budget Briefing," 25 May 1961; Minutes, Administrator's Staff Meeting, Thursday, 25 May 1961, NASA History Office.
54. Minutes, Administrator's Staff Meeting, Thursday, 22 June 1961, NASA History Office.
55. House Committee on Science and Astronautics, Communications Satellites, Part 1, 87th Cong., 1st sess., 1961, (87) H1898-1-A, p. 464.
56. Ibid., p. 461.
57. In a 1960 conversation with Seamans, Glennan had suggested just such a "sole-source" procurement of the Hughes system after the policy had been worked out. Seamans NASA Exit Interview, p. 28.
58. House Committee on Science and Astronautics, Communications Satellites, Part 2, 87th Cong., 1st sess., 1961, (87) H1898-1-B, p. 739.
59. Hal Taylor, "Council Favors Private Ownership," Missiles and Rockets 9 (3 July 1961): 11, 40.
60. Letter, Hubert Humphrey, Estes Kefauver, Wayne Morse, et al., to Kennedy, 24 August 1961, reprinted in Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Communications Satellite Act of 1962, 87th Cong., 2d sess., 1962, (87) S1539-4, pp. 51-54.
61. House Committee on Science and Astronautics, Satellites for World Communications, 86th Cong., 1st sess., 1959, (86) H1733-3.
62. Delbert D. Smith, Communication via Satellite: A Vision in Retrospect (Boston: A.W. Sijthoff, 1976), pp. 93-103.
63. Ibid., p. 104.
64. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Communications Satellite Act of 1962, 87th Cong., 2d sess., 1962, (87) S1539-4, pp. 13-21.
65. Dickieson, "TELSTAR," pp. 85-130.
66. Ibid., pp. 157-91.
67. Described in the brochure of Hughes Aircraft Company titled SYNCOM, NASA History Office.
68. Anonymous (C.G. Murphy?), "Policy Statement for Exploitation of HAC [Hughes Aircraft Company] Communications Satellites," circa early 1962, Hughes Aircraft Company Archives; Dickieson, "TELSTAR," pp. 85-127, 129-55. Ironically, the Telstar uplink (6,390 megahertz) and downlink (4,170 megahertz) frequencies were those land microwave frequencies that AT&T earlier had argued, in the "Above 890" decision, would be unsuitable for satellite communications.
69. "House Votes 354-to-9 Approval of Space Communications Firm," Washington Post, 4 May 1962, p. A1.
70. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Communications Satellite Act of 1962, 87th Cong., 2d sess., 1962, (87) S1539-4, passim.
71. The political actions leading to the passage of the Communications Satellite Act of 1962 have been studied in great detail in books, articles, and dissertations. Much of the debate is detailed in the various published hearings. The description above is compiled from various sources, especially Smith, "Civilian Space Applications"; Jonathan F. Galloway, The Politics and Technology of Satellite Communications (Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1972); Michael E. Kinsley, Outer Space and Inner Sanctums (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1976).
72. Beardsley Graham, "Satellite Communication," International Science and Technology 13 (January 1963): 69-74.
73. Jack Raymond, "President Names Satellite Board," New York Times, 5 October 1962, p. 1.
74. "Satellite Job is Resigned by Graham," Washington Evening Star, 26 January 1963, p. A9; "Satellite Firm Selects Top Officers, Hints at Stock Sale in a Year," Wall Street Journal, 28 February 1963, p. 32; Associated Press, "Welch, Charyk Picked to Head Satellite Firm," Washington Post, 1 March 1963, p. A3.
75. John W. Finney, "Space Radio Plan Creating Doubts," New York Times, 24 April 1963, p. 2.
76. Cecil Brownlow, "U.S.-Europe Comsat Agreement Predicted," Aviation Week & Space Technology 78 (22 April 1963): 74-75.
77. Robert C. Toth, "F.C.C. Sees Delay in Space Stock," New York Times, 27 July 1963, p. 3; "Satellite Corp., Prodded by FCC, May Tell More This Week About Plans for Stock Sale," Wall Street Journal, 29 July 1963, p. 7.
78. House Committee on Science and Astronautics, Commercial Communications Satellites, 87th Cong., 2d sess., 1962, (87) H1898-4, p. 1.
79. Ibid., pp. 1-4.
80. "S. African Observatory Spots Missing Syncom," Washington Post, 1 March 1963, p. A8; "Development of the Relay Communications Satellite," Interavia 17 (June 1962): 758-59; Sidney Metzger and Robert H. Pickard, "RELAY," Astronautics and Aerospace Engineering 1 (September 1963): 64-67; NASA, Final Report on the Relay 1 Program (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1965), pp. 63-90; Robert E. Warren, "Syncom I Progress Report No. 4," 4 March 1963, NASA History Office.
81. Siegfried H. Reiger, "Commercial Satellite Systems," Astronautics and Aerospace Engineering 1 (September 1963): 26-30; Joseph V. Charyk, "Communications Satellite Corporation: Objectives and Problems," Astronautics and Aerospace Engineering 1 (September 1963): 45-47.
82. Paul E. Norsell, "SYNCOM," Astronautics and Aerospace Engineering 1 (September 1963): 76-78; NASA Press Release, "Technical Background Briefing Project SYNCOM," 29 January 1963, NASA History Office.
83. R. Darcey to H. Goett, 14 June 1963, quoted in Weitzel, "The Origins of ATS," NASA HHN-83, 1968 (unpublished), p. 50, NASA History Office.
84. R.W. Cole to D.D. Williams, "Summary of Orbital Data for Syncom 2 (A-26)," 18 August 1963, Hughes Aircraft Company Archives.
85. L.M. Field to L.A. Hyland, "Possible use of Syncom as a Navigational System--Microwave Loran," 9 August 1963, Hughes Aircraft Company Archives.
86. C.G. Murphy to L.A. Hyland, "Synchronous Altitude Communication Satellite System," 16 September 1963, Hughes Aircraft Company Archives.
87. L.A. Hyland to Robert Gilruth, 21 October 1963, Hughes Aircraft Company Archives.
88. R.E. Warren to R. Garbarini, 10 September 1963; and R. Garbarini to H. Goett, 24 September 1963, both quoted in Weitzel, "The Origins of ATS," pp. 55-56.
89. Comsat Press Release, "Commercial Communications Satellite Engineering Design Proposals Requested of Industry; Corporation Regards Move As Major Step," 22 December 1963, NASA History Office.
90. "NASA's ComSat Funding to Climb," Missiles and Rockets 10 (2 April 1962): 17.
91. "NASA sees TELSTAR-Type Satellite as Best for World-Wide System," Aviation Week & Space Technology 77 (24 September 1962): 40.
92. There were several problems associated with these teams. Philco and TRW had teamed on medium-altitude communications satellites. ITT was an adviser to DoD on medium-altitude communications satellites. It was quite possible that medium-altitude communications satellites would be canceled, and Comsat would provide the capability required by the military.
93. "Communications Satellite Corp. Gets Bids for Designing System From Six Companies," Wall Street Journal, 12 February 1964, p. 1; Cecil Brownlow, "International Comsat Agency Considered," Aviation Week & Space Technology 80 (17 February 1964): 34.
94. Comsat Press Release, "Commercial Communications Satellite Engineering Design Proposals."
95. John J. Kelleher to Leonard Jaffe, Memorandum, "FCC Action on Early Bird," 24 January 1964, Jaffe papers, NASA History Office.
96. "Ocean Satellite by 1965 is Sought," New York Times, 5 March 1964, p. 4; "Comsat Files with FCC," Missiles and Rockets 14 (9 March 1964): 8; "Communications Satellite Firm Negotiates Spacecraft Contract with Hughes Aircraft," Wall Street Journal, 17 March 1964, p. 6; "FCC Gives ComSat Go-Ahead," Missiles and Rockets 14 (20 April 1964): 10.
97. John P. MacKenzie, "200 Carriers File for Comsat Shares," Washington Post, 24 March 1964, p. 4; "Satellite Corp. to Market Stock at $20 a Share," Wall Street Journal, 7 May 1964, p. 32; Philip J. Klass, "Comsat Firm Files $200-Million Fund Plan," Aviation Week & Space Technology 80 (11 May 1964): 25-26; Robert Hotz, "Selling Shares in Space," Aviation Week & Space Technology 80 (11 May 1964): 17; John P. MacKenzie, "Industry Snaps Up Its Half of Comsat Stock," Washington Post, 28 March 1964, p. 2; "Satellite Corp. Picks 6 Candidates for New Board," New York Times, 9 July 1964, p. 43C; "Comsat Stock Widely Distributed," Space Daily, 14 August 1964, p. 227; S. Oliver Goodman, "130,000 Owners Listed in Initial Report of Comsat," Washington Post, 14 August 1964, p. D7; John W. Finney, "Comsat Takes On Private Role As Holders Stage First Meeting," New York Times, 18 September 1964, p. 45; Suzanne Montgomery, "Comsat Board Awaits Senate Nod," Missiles and Rockets 15 (28 September 1964): 34.
98. Alexander R. Hammer, "Stock of Comsat Shows a Big Gain," New York Times, 20 August 1964, p. 37; "Comsat stock Widely Distributed," Space Daily, 14 August 1964, p. 227; S. Oliver Goodman, "130,000 Owners Listed in Initial Report of Comsat," Washington Post, p. D6.
99. House Committee on Government Operations, Military Operations Subcommittee, Satellite Communications: Military-Civil Roles and Relationships, 88th Cong., 2d sess., 1964, (88) H2086-1-A, pp. 89-96.
100. Ibid., pp. 11-12, 51-53, 105-13.
101. Comsat Press Release, 25 January 1965, NASA History Office; "Comsat's Defense Bid Challenged by Philco," The [Washington] Evening Star, 2 February 1965, p. 3; "FCC Bars Comsat Pact," Missiles and Rockets 16 (8 February 1965): 9; "Comsat to Seek Bids on DoD Comsat," Space Daily, 17 February 1965, pp. 239-40; Larry Weekley, "Comsat Bows to FCC, Invites General," Washington Post, 17 February 1965, p. C6.
102. Anthony Michael Tedeschi, Live via Satellite (Washington, DC: Acropolis Books, 1989), p. 31; "Leveled on Comsat Olympic Coverage," Space Daily, 14 September 1964, p. 237; "5 Technological Satellites will be Developed by Hughes," New York Times, 4 March 1964, p. 7; "Hughes Gets ATS Pact," Missiles and Rockets 14 (9 March 1964): 8; A.S. Jerrems to H.A. Rosen, "Syncom Publicity," 21 September 1964, Hughes Aircraft Company Archives.
103. Robert C. Cowen, "Commercial Relay Satellite has Date for Spring," Christian Science Monitor, 15 December 1964, p. 3; Eric Wentworth, "Comsat Gyrations Scrutinized by Federal Agencies in Case a Sudden Price Plunge Sparks Public Furor," Wall Street Journal, 22 December 1964, p. 3; "NASA Signs Agreement to Launch Comsat's Early Bird," Space Daily, 28 December 1964, p. 269.
104. W.J. Weber, Memorandum for the Record, "Summary of HS-303, Early Bird Communications Satellite Program," 15 January 1965, NASA History Office.
105. NASA Mission Operations Reports, NASA History Office.
106. Comsat Press Release, "Early Bird Fact Sheet III: Early Bird," 30 March 1965, NASA Mission Operations Reports, NASA History Office.
107. "As Comsat Gets Down to Business," U.S. News & World Report, 12 April 1965, p. 7.
108. Barry Miller, "Hughes Proposes TV Broadcast Satellite," Aviation Week & Space Technology 82 (1 February 1965): 75-77; Howard Simon, "Test of Early Bird's TV Heightens Optimism," Washington Post, 8 April 1965, p. A2; "Early Bird Satellite Relays a TV Signal in a Surprise Test," Wall Street Journal, 8 April 1965, p. 2; "Early Bird Orbit is Nearly Perfect," New York Times, 10 April 1965, p. 11; Suzanne Montgomery, "Early Bird Operation May be Speeded," Missiles and Rockets 16 (12 April 1965): 12; Val Adams, "2 Continents See Global TV Today," New York Times, 2 May 1965, p. 35; Jack Gould, "Comsat to Assay ABC Satellite," New York Times, 15 May 1965, p. 63.
109. Jerry E. Bishop, "Lagging Early Bird," Wall Street Journal, 2 August 1965, pp. 1, 14.
110. "First Formal Bid to be Comsat Customer Filed by AT&T With FCC," Wall Street Journal, 3 June 1965, p. 4; "RCA Follows AT&T in Asking to Become Customer of Comsat," Wall Street Journal, 4 June 1965, p. 6; Larry Weekley, "Early Bird Line Demand Grows," Washington Post, 8 June 1965, p. D8; "Comsat Gets Go-Ahead to Put Early Bird Into Commercial Use," Wall Street Journal, 21 June 1965, p. 3; "Early Bird Given Leasing Go-Ahead," New York Times, 24 June 1965, p. 57.
111. Comsat Press Release, "Comsat Files Application for FCC Authorization for Proposed Satellites for Apollo Service," 30 September 1965; Robert C. Seamans, Jr., to Dr. Joseph V. Charyk, letter, 23 November 1965; Robert C. Seamans, Jr., to Dr. Joseph V. Charyk, letter, 30 December 1965, all in NASA History Office. Also see "Comsat Seeks to Buy 4 Super Early Birds," New York Times, 20 October 1965, p. 11; "Comsat Files Apollo Satellite Contract," Space Daily, 21 October 1965, p. 262; "First Commercial Satellite to be Placed Over Pacific," New York Times, 4 November 1965, p. 28C; "4 Satellite System Ordered by Comsat," New York Times, 25 November 1965, p. 3.
112. Comsat Press Release, "Comsat Gives Highlights of Corporation's Progress in an Interim Report to Shareholders," 31 December 1965, NASA History Office.
113. "Comsat Studies," Aviation Week & Space Technology 80 (6 April 1964): 19; "The Big Four in Comsat Competition," Space Daily, 9 April 1965, p. 223; "Early Bird Follow-On," Aviation Week & Space Technology 82 (19 April 1965): 28; Lyle Denniston, "Comsat Satellite Decision Hints of Earlier Profits," Washington Evening Star, 11 May 1965, p. 72.
114. Comsat Press Release, "Comsat Asks Manufacturers to Submit proposals on Advanced Satellite for Global Communications," 17 August 1965, NASA History Office; "Early Bird Follow-On," Aviation Week & Space Technology 83 (23 August 1965): 27; Larry Weekley, "Comsat Negotiates With TRW on Large Satellite Contract," Washington Post, 17 December 1965, p. C8; "Comsat is Negotiating for New Satellites With TRW; Users' Charges May be Cut," Wall Street Journal, 17 December 1965, p. 24.
115. John Noble Wilford, "Comsat Seeking Bigger Satellite," New York Times, 30 December 1965, p. 21; "Comsat Asks Designs for Big, New Satellite," Washington Evening Star, 30 December 1965, p. A9.
116. John R. Pierce, The Beginnings of Satellite Communications (San Francisco: San Francisco Press, 1968), p. 9.
117. It should be pointed out that future Hughes systems depended on the "gyrostat" principle developed at Hughes by Anthony Iorillo and demonstrated on the Army TACSAT.