Spotlight: 40th Anniversary of Syncom Celebrated

By | December 15, 2003 | Feature

U.S. broadcasting pioneers Walter Cronkite and Jim McKay were joined last week by veteran TV news host David Hartman in a 40th anniversary celebration of the launch of Syncom, the world’s first geosynchronous communications satellite.

The celebration occurred Dec. 12 at Boeing’s [NYSE: BA] El Segundo, Calif.-based satellite manufacturing facility to highlight four decades of advances in satellite technology that began when a small, spinning satellite was deployed to create a global communications revolution.

Roger Roberts, Boeing’s senior vice president of space and intelligence systems, said, “In the decades of the 1960s and 1970s, the emerging industry of telecommunications and information took shape. We started using space to communicate, to monitor weather, and to protect national security. Within a few years of Syncom, technology had grown rapidly, enabling us to hop oceans, connect the world, and witness history in the making.”

Syncom, built by Hughes Aircraft’s satellite manufacturing unit (subsequently purchased by Boeing) and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1963, enabled President Kennedy to place the first live, two-way satellite telephone call between heads of state. He called Nigerian Prime Minister Abubaker Balewa, while the prime minister was aboard a U.S. Navy vessel docked in Lagos harbor.

In 1964, Syncom was used to provide the first continuous trans-Pacific television broadcast of the Olympic Games from Tokyo. –Paul Dykewicz

(Richard Esposito, Boeing, 310/335-6314)

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