The field of satellite communications is overcrowded. We are not talking about the problem of a crowded spectrum or crammed geosynchronous orbit, although this is now packed with a gaggle of high-tech machinery. No, the crowding of the satellite field we address here refers to the presence of so many disciplines.
Satellite systems actually involve many advanced technologies (from rocket science and orbital mechanics to transmission and multiplexing systems as well as material sciences and power systems), and this is just the start. Satellite operations include economics, marketing and business, news and entertainment, international law and regulation, international politics, military applications, education, health, sociology, and culture. Any serious attempt to explain and interpret the past, present, and future of satellite communications should recognize the interdisciplinary nature of the task.
Far more than technical knowledge is needed to understand the “why, ” “how, ” and “wherefore” of space communications. In fact over the past 40 years, satellites have created or stimulated a multitude of changes and innovations in our world. These impacts or breakthroughs have come in diverse arenas such as teleeducation in China, Indonesia, and India; and health care in the Caribbean and East Africa. Then there are the political and cultural changes stimulated by international treaties and executive agreements as well as satellite TV news, entertainment, and intelligence gathering all over the world. E-businesses driven by satellite links to emerging markets have changed patterns of trade and brought innovations in international law and business. In one sense, it could be said that satellites have had a major role in redefining the nation-state. Satellites, by creat-