Courtesy Reuters

Communications by Satellite

It is hard to remember now how much excitement was generated seven years ago by the first live transatlantic television broadcast. The facilities in July 1962 were primitive. The signal held up for only twenty-two minutes and then died as the Telstar satellite which relayed the picture passed out of range of the earth stations at Andover, Maine, and Pleumeur Boudeau, France, both of which sent signals to Telstar and received from it. It was something less than a "smash hit," but it ushered in a new era in international communications.

Only seven years later, nearly half the land mass of the world was interlaced with communications facilities that made it possible for virtually all television viewers everywhere to watch live pictures from the surface of the moon. We have progressed to the point where a worldwide communications system is in full operation, based upon three satellites in synchronous orbit and a network of earth stations.

It is hardly necessary to belabor the benefits to mankind which will result from a sure, efficient, inexpensive and flexible worldwide communications system free of government restraints and capable of delivering sound, pictures, words and data by telephone, telex, radio, television and through data transmissions, from computer to computer. The implications may be especially profound for those sections of the world which for reasons of topography or poverty have so far been able to develop only the most rudimentary communications systems.

It is the instantaneous transmission of news and such events as the moon walk, the investiture of the Prince of Wales and the like that has so far constituted the most glamorous of the satellite's functions. By cable we have long been able to move written messages, voice and, in recent years, still pictures; the capacity to transmit moving pictures over great distances is new. But like the iceberg, the television coverage which has attracted the most attention is only a small part of the capability of the communications satellite system operated by the International

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