30th Anniversary

April 29, 2013

It was exactly 30 years ago in April 1983 that the formation of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation of the United States was first publicly announced at the White House as a part of the World Communications Year celebrations in the United States that year. The month before there had been a World Communications Year celebration at the United Nations with speeches by United Nations officials, International Telecommunication Union officials, my boss the Secretary General of Intelsat and Arthur C. Clarke. At those meetings in New York, Arthur C. Clarke agreed to be honorary chairman of the newly formed Society of Satellite Professionals International, agreed to become the Chancellor of the International Space University in meetings with the 3 founders and myself, and also agreed to the launch of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation of the United States.

This initiative started with Ambassador de Alwis of Sri Lanka and his Counselor Narem Chitty who at the time was pursuing his Ph.D. at American University as one of my students. At the time I was Executive Assistant to the Secretary General of Intelsat and adjunct professor at American University.

With the formation of Foundation we recruited some well known people to the board such as Henry Hocheimer, President of Ford Aerospace (now Space Systems Loral), Ben Bova, the well-known Sci-Fi writer and friend of Arthur C. Clarke, Professor Edwin Parker of Stanford University who founded Equatorial Communications, Fred Durant, Assoc. Director of the Air and Space Museum, and John McLucas, former Secretary of the Air Force and President of Comsat General to be Chairman of the Board.

The original mission was to aid communications development in South Asia and to provide education assistance to students from that region to study abroad. Over the years we have held symposia, held training sessions in Sri Lanka, sponsored publications, sponsored international development projects such as the Millennium Village and new technology to provide tsunami alerts. In recent years with the dissolution of the Clarke Institute on Telecommunications and Information our focus has been on the Clarke Awards and cooperative educational programs with the International Space University, the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety, the Challenger Center, The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education and the Clarke Institute for Space Education.

There could be no more fitting way to celebrate the 30th year of the Foundation as it has grown and developed into an international entity to see the opening of the new and exciting Clarke Center on the Human Imagination at the University of California at San Diego.

 

–Joe Pelton