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The idea of radio transmission through space was originally put forth in a book by science fiction pioneer Hugo Gensback in 1911. It was however, the work of scientist and science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke that formed the basis of what is now the modern communication satellite. Mr. Clarke is famous for his contribution to modern fiction with such works as 2001: A Space Odyssey and 2010. It is an earlier work, however, which had a monumental impact on the modern world.

In 1945 Clarke proposed, in a work of fiction, satellites in orbit for radio communications between distant points on earth. Clarke assumed that the relay stations would be manned space stations made from materials flown up by rockets and assembled in space. **While Clarke’s vision of the form the relay stations would take proved to be inaccurate, he was accurate in many of the other things he envisioned.

Among Clarke’s suggestions was that the satellites would be located in orbit fixed above a single point in the sky above the earth. This idea meant that the satellites would act like huge radio towers able to relay messages from the surface to any point of an entire hemisphere of the globe. He also suggested the use of solar power and photoelectric devices to power the broadcast relays. In these points he was accurate to the point of prophecy. Today, the majority of communication satellites operate from geosynchronous orbits and are powered by solar panels.

For his foresight and scientific intuition, the belt in which geosynchronous or geostationary satellites orbit is called the Clarke Belt, and is named after him. This is the location 22,300 miles above the earth’s surface where a majority of today’s communication satellites are located. While not all communication satellites are located in this ring located above the earth’s equator, those which are make up a majority of the active satellites used for communication today. From science fiction to science fact, Arthur Clarke has seen an idea that was nothing more than a dream come to practical reality within his lifetime.