When he signed the new law, President Kennedy said,
By enacting this legislation, Congress has taken a step of historic importance. It promises significant benefits to our own people and to the entire world. Its purpose is to establish a commercial communications system utilizing space satellites which will serve our needs and those of other countries and contribute to world peace and understanding.
The benefits which a satellite system should make possible within a few years will stem largely from a vastly increased capacity to exchange information cheaply and reliably with all parts of the world by telephone, telegraph, radio, and television. The ultimate result will be to encourage and facilitate world trade, education, entertainment, and many kinds of professional, political, and personal discourse which are essential to healthy human relationships and international understanding.
Better and less expensive communications, like better and less expensive transportation, are vital elements in the march of civilization. This legislation will, by advancing the peaceful and productive use of space, help to accelerate that march, and I extend appreciation to the Members of Congress who worked so hard to secure passage of a very effective piece of legislation.
The satellite was launched on July 10, 1962, 60 years ago today, the world’s first commercial payload of any kind in space. According to NASA, “Two days later, it relayed the world’s first transatlantic television signal, from Andover Earth Station, Maine, to the Pleumeur-Bodou Telecom Center, Brittany, France…. The first images, those of President John F. Kennedy and of singer Yves Montand from France, along with clips of sporting events, images of the American flag waving in the breeze and a still image of Mount Rushmore, were precursors of the global communications that today are mostly taken for granted.”