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For the intergovernmental organization in Pakistan, see COMSATS.
Communications Satellite Corporation
Industry Telecommunications
Founded 1963
Headquarters Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.
Key people
Leo D. Welch, Joseph V. Charyk, David M. Kennedy, George Killion, Leonard H. Marks and Bruce Sundlun
Products Communication satellite

COMSAT (Communications Satellite Corporation) is a global telecommunications company, based in the United States, and with branches in Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Venezuela and several other countries in the Americas. Although it operates many kinds of data communication technologies, it is best known for its satellite communication services.


Outside view of COMSAT facilities and antenna farm in Brazil, near Campinas

The COMSAT Corporation was created by the Communications Satellite Act of 1962 and incorporated as a publicly traded company in 1963. The primary goal of COMSAT was to serve as a public, federally funded corporation intended to develop a commercial and international satellite communication system press. Although the corporation was government regulated, it was equally owned by some major communications corporations and independent investors.[1] COMSAT began operations with its headquarters in Washington, DC, in 1962, with a six-person founding board of directors appointed by President John F. Kennedy, including: Phil Graham who served as Chairman (until his resignation in January 1963);[2] Leo D. Welch, Joseph V. Charyk, David M. Kennedy, George Killion, Leonard H. Marks, and Bruce Sundlun.[3]

In August 1964, COMSAT helped create and was majority owner in the International Telecommunications Satellite Consortium (INTELSAT), an international satellite organization with the goal of global satellite coverage that today has 143 member countries and signatories. COMSAT was responsible for the launching of the Early Bird communications satellite, on April 6, 1965, and has been instrumental in the expansion of communications throughout the world through its various international subsidiaries.

To further satellite technology, in September 1969 COMSAT opened COMSAT Laboratories, a research and development arm, in Clarksburg, Maryland.

Following many open inquiries into ongoing disagreements with major broadcasting companies and COMSAT, the FCC created the Open Skies Policy in June, 1972.[4] This policy authorized the use of satellites for domestic broadcast use and encouraged competition between different systems.[5] In 1976 COMSAT deployed Marisat, three geosynchronous satellite systems providing mobile services to the United States Navy and other maritime customers, and Comstar, a domestic system. To separate these activities from its Intelsat business as required by the Federal Communications Commission, a subsidiary company named Comsat General was formed. In 1982, the Marisat satellites, along with three Marisat earth stations (two in the US—Southbury, Connecticut, and Santa Paula, California—and one in Japan) formed the initial operating system for the International Maritime Satellite Organization (INMARSAT).

COMSAT provided 2-way communication via geostationary satellite for a number of cruise ships in Caribbean and other offshore applications. The ship on-board system included antenna stabilized with 3-axis gimbals, beacon signal receiver and an active control system to search and lock the antenna on the satellite during the ship maneuvers and severe waves. The system called Startrack was developed by the Canadian company Techwest Data Systems. In 1995 the system was acquired by the UK Marine Data Systems for their floating rigs operations in the North Sea and in 1996 manufacturing moved to Aberdeen, Scotland.

On 20 September 1998, Lockheed Martin Corp. and COMSAT Corp jointly announced a two-phase merger agreement valued at approximately $2.7 billion, contingent upon certain FCC rulings and Congressional legislative accommodations. Upon completion of the transaction, COMSAT will become an integral element of Lockheed Martin Global Telecommunications, a recently formed wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp.[6] Phase 1 of the transaction was completed via a $49.50 per share purchase of approximately 49% of COMSAT common stock in September 1999,[7] and phase 2 via a one-for-one tax-free exchange of Lockheed Martin common stock for the remaining 51% of COMSAT common stock (approximately 27.5 million shares) in August 2000,[8] at which time the Lockheed Martin stock (NYSE: LMT) was trading at approximately $28.50 per share.[9]

On 2 August 2000, the COMSAT ticker symbol CQ was removed from the New York Stock Exchange.[10]

During the two year approval process, Comsat shareholders lost about US$300 million in purchase value because of a drop in Lockheed Martin stock as the two companies struggled through complex congressional and regulatory hurdles.[citation needed]

With the integration of COMSAT, Lockheed Martin Global Telecommunications (LMGT) became the U.S. owner, and the largest shareholder, in both the INTELSAT and Inmarsat systems. Inmarsat was fully privatized on April 15, 1999. Comsat serves as the U.S. Signatory to INTELSAT, and will continue in that role until INTELSAT's expected privatization in 2001 at which point it will become a shareholder.[citation needed]

On 27 March 2001 LMGT announced the sale of the COMSAT mobile communications unit, which had been aligned with the Satellite Services business, to Telenor of Norway for $116.5 million. This sale was completed on 11 January 2002, and included COMSAT mobile's two earth station facilities, one in Southbury, Connecticut, and one in Santa Paula, California.

On 7 December 2001 Lockheed Martin announced plans to exit its Global Telecommunications services business, disbanding the wholly owned LMGT subsidiary and immediately implementing actions to reassign certain of LMGT's businesses and investments to other operating segments of Lockheed Martin, sell the remaining operations, position investments for monetization, and eliminate the LMGT administrative structure. The COMSAT General telecommunications unit was realigned with the Space Systems business area.[11]

COMSAT International Holdings (CIH), formerly known as World Data Consortium, acquired an 81% of COMSAT International (formerly Enterprise Solutions-International, a provider of network services to the South American corporate market) from Lockheed Martin Corporation in the 2nd quarter of 2002.[12]

On 11 May 2004 Lockheed Martin announced that Intelsat, Ltd. would acquire Lockheed Martin's COMSAT General business for $90 million. At that time COMSAT General provided satellite-centric telecommunications services and equipment, concentrating on international fixed and mobile satellite systems.[13]

In the 2nd quarter of 2007 BT Group of the UK announced the acquisition of COMSAT International from CIH,[14] and Lockheed Martin announced the sale of its remaining 20% interest in COMSAT International.[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Rise of Cable Programming in the United States: Revolution or Evolution?, University of Texas, 2003 
  2. ^ JFK Presidential Library, dictabelt recordings
  3. ^ "Stockholders Back COMSAT Management". St. Petersburg Times, 18 September 1964. Retrieved 17 May 2009. 
  4. ^ "Wired, Zapped, and Beamed, 1960's through 1980's". 
  5. ^ Communication, Commerce, and Power: The Political Economy of America and the Direct Broadcast Satellite, MacMillen Press Ltd, 1998 
  6. ^ Lockheed Martin - COMSAT to Combine Lockheed Martin press release, 20 September 1998. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  7. ^ Lockheed Martin Completes Tender Offer for COMSAT Stock Lockheed Martin press release, 18 September 1999. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  8. ^ Lockheed Martin Reports Third Quarter 2000 Earnings Lockheed Martin press release, 26 October 2000. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  9. ^ Yahoo echarts NYSE:LMT 7/26/2000-9/7/2000 Retrieved 10 January 2010
  10. ^ NYSE Historical Component Changes Retrieved 10 January 2010
  11. ^ Lockheed Martin To Exit Global Telecommunications Services Business Lockheed Martin press release, 07 December 2001. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  12. ^ Lockheed Martin Announces Second Quarter 2007 Results Lockheed Martin Press Release, 24 July 2007. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  13. ^ Lockheed Martin's COMSAT General To Be Acquired By Intelsat Lockheed Martin press release, 11 May 2004. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  14. ^ 2007/April - BT to acquire Comsat International COMSAT International press release, April 2007. Retrieved 10 January 2010.
  15. ^ Lockheed Martin Announces Second Quarter 2007 Results Lockheed Martin Press Release, 24 July 2007. Retrieved 10 January 2010.

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