Discussion Runs Gauntlet From Space to Ground Stations
The man who prophesized synchronous communications satellites visited Space Systems Division recently to meet the man most responsible for the invention of Hughes satellites.
The meeting, which brought together Arthur C. Clarke, British author-electronics engineer-astronomer, and inventor Harold A. Rosen, manager of Communication Satellites Systems, had several highlights:
• Mr. Clarke presented two pages from the Los Angeles Times dated Feb. 3, 1946, to Philip A. “Phil” Rubin, manager of Commercial Communication Satellite Earth Stations, Advance Program Development. The pages announce the Briton’s historical prophecy of a triad satellite system.
• Mr. Clarke’s opinions on educational television satellite distribution systems were sought by Mr. Rubin, who has completed assignments in India and Ceylon as a United Nations technical expert and advisor on communications satellite systems.
• They discussed the forthcoming motion picture “2001: A Space Odyssey,” based on Clarke’s book by the same title and his October-December lecture tour in the United States.
• Mr. Rubin told of his work in Ceylon where Mr. Clarke resides and writes about many subjects, including skin-divers’ search for the fortune in pearls that exists in those waters, Ceylon’s rich natural resources, and precious gems and minerals in the mountains.
• The Hughesite also discussed his work in India as technical expert and advisor to the Indian government in the designing of the Earth station at Ahmedabad. He returned to to India last month for the final acceptance tests of the station which has been under construction for the past several months.
The Times reported on its front page in 1946: “…..the British scientist’s plan to solve long distance broadcasting problems by establishing manned radio relay stations that would forever circle the Earth like tiny moons…is receiving serious consideration…the scientist has won his spurs as a prophet by predicting we’d hit the man-in-the-moon with radar.”
Satellites Are Different
Actually the Hughes communication satellites are vastly different from those envisioned by Mr. Clarke, in the post war era when science started focusing on space as the next frontier.
He projected a manned system with supplies and manpower fed to the stations by rocket ships.
Mr. Clarke and Dr. Rosen hold high awards for advancement of worldwide communication. Mr. Clarke’s Kalinga prize from UNESCO is for scientific writing.
Dr. Rosen holds the National Space Club’s 1963 top honor for scientific achievement and “…for pioneering efforts which led to an early concept of the synchronous communication satellite system…for conviction of the system’s feasibility, and for dedication and perseverance which eventually culminated in the birth of the Syncom project…” In 1965 Dr. Rosen received the Golden Plate award from the American Academy of Achievement in Dallas, Tex.
Editor’s Note: This article is most curious in that while it headlines a meeting between Clarke and Rosen it only mentions discussions between Clarke and Rubin. No pictures of Clarke were shown with the article. Clarke’s paper entitled “Extra-Terrestial Relays” in the October 1945 Wireless World was the first discussion of the utility of geosynchronous orbits.