COMSAT Corporation collection
Conditions Governing Use
62.5 Cubic Feet (50 record center cartons)
it is the policy of the United States to establish in conjunction and in cooperation with other countries, as expeditiously as practicable, a commercial communications satellite system, as part of an improved global communications network, which will be responsive to public needs and national objectives, which will serve the communications needs of the United States and other countries, and which will contribute to world peace and understanding.
The previous year, AT&T and NASA had successfully launched the Telstar satellite, which provided the link for the first transatlantic television broadcast. Although COMSAT was established to limit the likelihood of AT&T monopolizing the satellite communications industry as it had the telecommunications industry, AT&T nevertheless owned 29 percent of the company's stock and named three members to its board.
COMSAT launched its first satellite, Early Bird, in 1965. Unlike Telstar, which flew in relatively low orbit, Early Bird flew in a geosynchronous orbit, allowing it to provide around the clock coverage to a much larger area. It covered the North Atlantic region using earth stations in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and Italy.
COMSAT had, a year earlier, become a partner in Intelsat (International Telecommunications Satellite Organization), a consortium of eleven countries whose goal was global satellite coverage. By 1969, Intelsat had established full global satellite coverage through its system of geosynchronous satellites.
In 1969, COMSAT Laboratories, the company's research and development arm, opened in Clarksburg, Maryland. The building, designed by noted architect Cesar Pelli, housed a state-of-the-art lab for research into microwave technology, solar cells, solid state systems, and semiconductors. Some of the projects pursued by the lab included the development of a more efficient solar cell, digital echo cancellers, lighter and more efficient storage batteries, and equipment that would allow a doubling of the capacity of a satellite transponder for television transmission.
In 1976 COMSAT deployed two satellite systems separate from its monopoly business, Intelsat. They were Marisat, to provide mobile services to the United States Navy and other maritime customers, and Comstar, a domestic system
To separate these activities from its Intelsat business as required by the Federal Communications Commission, COMSAT formed a subsidiary company, Comsat General. In 1982, the Marisat satellites, along with three Marisat earth stations (two in the US and one in Japan) formed the initial operating system for the International Maritime Satellite Organization (INMARSAT).
In 2000, COMSAT was acquired by Lockheed Martin Corporation and operated as a wholly owned subsidiary. Between 2000 until 2004, Lockheed sold off various parts of COMSAT. At the end of 2004, what was left of Comsat General was sold to Intelsat, Ltd.
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