by Thomas G.
I joined Martin Marietta in 1959, right after my four-year stint in the United States Air Force. My proudest experience was in 1979. Vice President of Launch Vehicles Chuck Carnahan and I produced the first telecommunications satellite conference. It was called “Project Encounter.” We conducted a successful design review on a launch vehicle umbilical boom modification at Vandenberg Air Force Base. This was the first satellite conference conducted between Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, and Martin Marietta, Waterton, Colorado. As part of this program, I also designed the first satellite conference room.
Project Encounter was a personal dream and was driven by the successful launch of a NASA Titan III from Cape Canaveral on May 30, 1974. This was a special Application Technology Satellite (ATS-6), which contained 26 communication experiments.
To demonstrate the educational experiment’s capabilities, I designed and built a little “Red Schoolhouse,” placed on a 24-foot trailer with a 10-foot ground satellite dish. Behind the windows of the schoolhouse were two 25-inch color TV sets. There were graphics along the side to demonstrate the capabilities. I traveled with the trailer throughout the Rocky Mountain region demonstrating the technology to school kids.