Space & Communications Group Formed by HAC—Hughes News August 7, 1970

Wheelon Appointed to Executive Post: Roney and Visher Named as Assistants

A major new operating group, the Space and Communications Group, has been formed by Hughes Aircraft “to develop opportunities for new business and new services to the community,” announced Executive Vice President Allen Puckett.

He said the new group is headed by Albert Wheelon, formerly vice president Engineering, who now becomes vice president and Group Executive.

Assistant Group executives are Bob Roney and Paul Visher, formerly manager and associate manager of the Space Systems Division of the Aerospace Group.

“One of the most important practical applications of space technology has been in the field of communications, in which Hughes has been a pioneer and leader ,” Dr. Puckett said.

“Explosive Growth”

“The entire field of communications is in a period of explosive growth in which the use of broad-band satellite relays with the very broad band video signals provide access in every home. This creates exciting opportunities for new business and new service to the community. It is our intention to develop these new opportunities to the fullest.”

“As an example, only last week the Canadian cabinet authorized Telesat Canada Corporation to open negotiations for the award of a contract to Hughes to build three domestic satellites for Canada.”

Space and Communications Group will be headquartered in Space Systems Division’s Bldg. 366 at El Segundo. Initially, Dr. Puckett said, the Group is made up of the employees and facilities of SSD, with other organizational elements to be added when they are required.

Made Famous

SSD gained fame for the company by designing and building the successful Surveyor lunar landing vehicles for NASA: Early Bird, the world’s first commercial communications satellite and the Intelsat II series of communications satellites for the Comsat Corporation and the 76-nation Intelsat consortium; the Applications Technology Satellites for NASA and the TACSAT tactical communications satellite for the U. S. Air Force.

The company currently is building the Intelsat IV series of communications satellites, the first of which is scheduled for launch in 1971. Each will be capable of carrying simultaneously 6000 two-way telephone calls or 12 color television programs, or various combinations, across oceans from a 22,300 mile-high synchronous orbit, a concept pioneered by Hughes with the Syncom satellites in the early 1960s.

Careers Outlined

Dr. Wheelon joined HAC in 1966 after serving with the Central Intelligence Agency as deputy director of science and technology. He is a member of the Defense Science Board and is a consultant to the President’s Scientific Advisory Council and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. He holds a B. S. in engineering from Stanford and a Ph.D. in physics from M. I. T. Last December he was named a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Dr. Roney has been with HAC since 1949. He was on the team that developed the Falcon family of air-to-air missiles and has been in SSD since its inception in 1961, first serving as its associate manager. He was a member of the original team handling the Surveyor proposal and later helped direct that program as well as several other satellite programs. He is a graduate of the University of Missouri and received his masters and doctors degrees in electrical engineering from Caltech.

Mr. Visher joined HAC in 1956 as a development planner for guided missile programs and has been assistant and later associate manager of SSD since 1964. In 1961 he served for almost a year in Washington, DC, as assistant Secretary of Defense, managing national civil defense programs. He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Indiana University and this L.L.B. from Yale Law School.


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About Jack Fisher

Jack was a systems engineer at Hughes from 1961 to 1992. He contributed to various programs including Surveyor, Pioneer Venus, Galileo, Intelsat VI and innumerable proposals. He was the manager of of the Spacecraft Systems Engineering Lab until his retirement. Upon retirement Jack taught systems engineering at a number of national and international venues.