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Artificial satellites, Astronautics, History

GavaghanCommunications | Source material

SOMETHING NEW UNDER THE SUN, Satellites and the Beginning of the Space Age
Copyright for the book, including research notes, Copernicus/Springer Verlag (New York)

History of artificial satellites
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p266

entation, stabilization and station keeping problems of that satellite are solved; cooperate with the Department of Defense in the initial launch operation, and share the costs of launching, as may be agreed; work with other Department of Defense contractors on portions of the program of primary military interest to ensure efficient planning and to ensure system compatibility.

The tensions between NASA and AT&T at both policy and technical levels are also well documented. A letter from Fred Kappel, the president of AT&T, to James Webb, the administrator of NASA, written on April 5, 1961, says, "It has come to my attention that an article that The Wall Street Journal carries ...that NASA has yet to receive any firm proposal from any company." Kappel goes on to write, "In view of the events which have taken place during the past few months, this statement ...is of deep concern to me. The specific events to which I refer are as follow." Over four pages, Kappel itemizes approaches made by AT&T to NASA (George Washington University, passed to me by David Whalen).

The Department of Justice's concerns about the antitrust implications of AT&T's plans for an operational communication satellite system are mentioned in various places. One source is a memo for Alan Shapley from James Webb, NASA administrator, dated August 12, 1966. In this memo Webb also makes the point that the RCA proposal (Relay) was clearly the best for the "experimental and research requirements of NASA, although not necessarily the best for the first step toward an operational communication satellite as desired by AT&T" (NASA History Office).

A memorandum for the record by Robert Nunn of December 23, 1960, describes a meeting between himself; John Johnson, NASA's special council; and Attorney General Roberts. They were discussing a paper on communication policy to be submitted to the White House. December 1960 was, of course, the eve of the Kennedy administration. The policy question at stake was private or public promotion of communication satellites. All acknowledged that AT&T might be the only company capable of owning and operating an operational system of communications satellites. Roberts said, "Whatever we do, we cannot act as though NASA is putting AT&T into a preemptive position..." And he said, "...we cannot assume ...that when all is said and done AT&T will emerge owning and operar-


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Page text content checked against original in print by HG on 2nd May, 2013.

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