National Geographic : 1962 May
SParis Gun of World War I, b000- mvs muzzle velocity 4,000 / - miles an hour, fired 76 miles 'z . a. s speed 17,000 Space probes escape earth's gravity at 24,000 miles an hour DIAGRAM BY STAFFARTIST R. W. NICHOLSON@ N.G.S. its fellow projects. To begin with, A. T. & T., eager to pioneer in space communications, is paying its own way in both design and launching of its brain child. In addition to more than $30,000,000 already spent on Tel star and satellite ground stations, A. T. & T. has entered a unique partnership with NASA, reimbursing the space agency for launching the satellite with a Thor-Delta rocket-some $3,000,000. The outlays set a Space Age prec edent for private investment. Scientists Work in Dust-free Rooms Since Telstar was scheduled to be the first of the new communicators in orbit, I had be gun my tour of tomorrow's satellites at Bell's Hillside facility. There, Telstar was nearing completion. What had looked like a hospital operating room was the fabrication laboratory for the satellite. Bell calls such laboratories "white rooms," and certainly no hospital ever took greater pains to keep out dirt and grime (page 640). Unlike hospitals, however, white rooms safeguard priceless equipment rather than people. In this case, the concern was for Telstar's delicate components, which are acutely allergic to dust. In a white room, filters strain the air. Work ers wear lint-free nylon caps and gowns, and vacuum-clean their shoes before they set foot 642 in the laboratory. Engineers even use wash- Speed Determines Whether a Rocket Falls, Goes Into Orbit, or Escapes Into Space The German Army's Paris Gun of World War I fired shells 76 miles into the French capital, the longest range attained in artillery's history. Atlas, when used as an intercon tinental missile, races at 16,000 miles an hour and travels as far as 6,000 miles. To launch an earth satellite, a rocket must accelerate to 17,000 miles an hour. Space probes, such as Pio neer IV, escape earth's gravity with a speed of 24,000 miles an hour. Sir Isaac Newton in the late 17th century postulated the laws that gov ern trajectories and explain how a satellite stays in orbit. Simply stated: A rocket launched with too little speed falls back to earth. With too much speed, it escapes. Between the ex tremes lies a range of velocities at which a properly aimed object orbits earth in balance between falling and escaping, and becomes a satellite. able crayon instead of chalk on the black boards that inevitably stand near their con ference tables. I could have spent many hours exploring Hillside's Space Age workshop, but I wanted to learn how Telstar came to be. The place for that was the Bell Laboratories at Murray Hill, ten miles away, where the idea of Tel star was born. At Murray Hill, I discovered, the problems are not all in the realm of science. A big worry is simply one of time. "In the past ten years," explained Alton C. Dickieson, director of Bell's transmission development, "the United States has seen a fantastic increase-about 75 percent-in its use of telephones. Communications carriers work night and day to keep up. We must con stantly add new lines and circuits. "But the oceans are the big barrier. The United States, for example, has only 550 tele phone channels - both cable and radio - with which to handle some four million interna tional calls a year. And in 1961 alone all trans oceanic calls rose by 15 percent." Television, he said, is another problem, for one TV signal takes up more than 600 voice channels. Though future develop ments may greatly expand cable capacity, the U. S. today cannot exchange by cable a single live television program with Europe. "The challenge will increase with time,"