This is my fifth report on progress on the Comsat Legacy Project for those who have donated, volunteered or, otherwise, shown an interest in the effort. I have some very positive developments to report.
Work at Lockheed Martin
All of the selected Comsat materials that were stored in Bethesda have been moved to Clarksburg and have been consolidated with the other Comsat materials already stored there. This includes the various awards previously displayed on a wall in Bethesda as mentioned in my last report. We just finished taking a high level inventory of the materials. Lockheed has furnished us with a 16 mm projector and a 3/4 inch tape player so that we can review videos in that format. This is a great bonanza since the alternative would have involved paying substantial rental fees for such machines. We now only lack a beta tape player. Hale Montgomery has accepted responsibility for review of all video materials.
Steve Teller, President of IOT Systems, LLC, has made a most intriguing offer. He suggests that we store the Lockheed materials in his facility and offers to digitize all of it at no cost to us. IOT Systems is a spin-off of Comsat Labs engaged in in-orbit test services for a number of clients. They have a suite of offices and lab space on the floor immediately above Lockheed's records area in the Clarksburg East Wing. The area is secured with magnetic pass keys and there is adequate space for our materials. Lockheed has a five-year renewable lease on Clarksburg and IOT has sublet their space from Lockheed for the same period. The lease expires in November, 2007. IOT has all the equipment necessary for the digitizing program except for converting 35 mm slides and Steve states that he intends to make such a capital investment in the near future. If this works out, we will avoid the major transportation and storage costs previously anticipated for this year and open up a host of possibilities for the future.
Comara continues to give us excellent cooperation. If you go to their redesigned web site at www.comara.org, you will see Comsat Legacy given prominent treatment. All of our information will be kept outside of the member pages so that anyone, Comara member or not, will be able to access it. We had a display at Comara's well-attended first party on March 4 including the two Comsat banners used as decorations. There was considerable interest in the memorabilia and one viewer was moved to pull out his checkbook on the spot.
I am in touch with David J. Whalen who has shown an interest in doing a Comsat history. I first came in contact with his work when I read his chapter in the book published by NASA, Beyond the Ionosphere, Fifty Years of Satellite Communication . Since I also contributed a chapter to that book, I had occasion to read the book in its entirety. His chapter which is entitled "Billion Dollar Technology, A Short Historical Overview of the Origins of Communications Satellite Technology, 1945-1965", made a very favorable impression on me. An expanded version of this work is contained in his book published last year by the Smithsonian Institution Press, The Origins of Satellite Communications, 1945-1965 .
Edward J. Martin
7122 Plantation Lane
Rockville, MD 20852
Telephone: (301) 770-0984
Fax: (301) 881-5726