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Arthur C. Clarke, dead at 90, foresaw satellite communications, says UN agency

Arthur C. Clarke, dead at 90, foresaw satellite communications, says UN agency

The lead United Nations agency for communication technology today paid tribute to the science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke, who died yesterday at the age of 90, calling him a visionary of satellite communications that now link the world’s peoples.

“We owe Sir Arthur our gratitude for helping to usher in the space age and, in particular, the use of geostationary satellites for worldwide radio coverage,” said Hamadoun Touré, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

“Satellite communication systems have a huge potential to offer, promising high-capacity transmission capabilities over wide areas. They have an important role to play in bridging the digital divide,” Mr. Touré added.

Mr. Clarke wrote more than 80 books involving science, and science fiction. His short story The Sentinel served as the basis for Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In October 1945, Mr. Clarke published a technical paper in the British magazine Wireless World entitled “Extra-terrestrial Relays – Can Rocket Stations Give World-wide Radio Coverage?”

The paper established the feasibility of artificial satellites as relay stations for Earth-based communications, according to an ITU press release. Nearly two decades later, in 1964, Syncom 3 became the first geostationary satellite to fulfil Mr. Clarke’s prediction.

Now, there are hundreds of satellites in orbit and providing communications, as well as information on weather and other environmental conditions, to people around the globe, the agency said.

A book of condolence will be open for signature at the ITU headquarters in Geneva from 26 March to 4 April.