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SCORE, The World’s First “Talking” Satellite

On December 18, 1958, the world’s first “talking” satellite was successfully launched, a product of the U.S. Army Signal Corps Laboratories at Fort Monmouth in conjunction with the then-new Advanced Research Projects Agency. 

Called “SCORE,” which stands for “Signal Communications by Orbiting Relay,” it was the world’s first purpose-built communications satellite.  SCORE was placed in orbit by an Atlas missile (shown in photo above), and using an on-board tape recorder, broadcast the first human voice from space, President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Christmas greeting to the world.  The broadcast signal for Eisenhower’s greeting was fairly weak, and only very sensitive radio receivers were able to detect it.  Most Americans heard the message as it was rebroadcast on commercial news programs.  But this historic message proved that voice and data signals could be efficiently relayed over great distances by communications satellites. 

The SCORE communications package was designed and built by Kenneth Masterman-Smith, a military communication research engineer, along with other personnel with the U.S. Army Signal Research and Development Laboratory (SRDL) at Fort Monmouth.

Sources:

Pierce, John R., and Tressler, Arthur G.  (1964).  The Research State: A History of science in New Jersey.  D. Van Norstrand Company, Inc., Princeton, N.J., P. 126-127.

Rejan, Wendy A.  (2008).  A History of Army Communications and Electronics at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey 1917-2007.  Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans, U.S. Army CECOM Life Cycle Management Command, Fort Monmouth, N.J.  U.S. Government Printing Office, available: bookstore.gpo.gov.

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