The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation was established in 1983 in Washington, D.C., as part of World Communications Year celebrations at the United Nations, an international event sponsored by the United Nation’s International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The Foundation was created to recognize and promote the extraordinary contributions of Arthur C. Clarke to the world, and to promote the use of space and telecommunications technology for the benefit of humankind.
The Foundation is dedicated to building on Sir Arthur Clarke’s multidisciplinary and inspiring legacy. The Foundation draws its inspiration and activities from Sir Arthur’s wide range of visionary, creative and constructive imagination. At one extreme is Clarke the physicist who, at age 28, envisioned a future where geosynchronous platforms—extra-terrestrial relays—could be used for global communication. At the other, is Clarke as a visionary humanist and one of the most inspiring and entertaining science fiction writers of all time. His relentless and profound faith in humanity’s ability to meet the challenges of sustaining our planet and at the same time inspiring us to elevate our imaginations and horizons to the unknown.
Arthur C. Clarke was known not only for his science fiction novels such as Childhood’s End, Rendezvous with Rama, and 2001: A Space Odyssey, but also for his scientific publications on space, energy, and the oceans. He is perhaps most famous for envisioning a global network of geosynchronous telecommunications satellites in 1945, developing low altitude radar, conceptualizing the “space elevator” (an elevator from Earth’s surface to orbit), and ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC).
The work of the Foundation is to continue and recognize the seminal works and ideas of one of the leading thinkers and more extensive writers of science fiction and science fact of the 20th century.
The Foundation was announced through a White House press release at the inaugural celebration of World Communications Year 1983, celebrated on December 16, 1982. Dr. John McLucas, former Secretary of the Air Force and former FAA Administrator, served as the first Chairman of the Foundation; Dr. Joseph N. Pelton, Founder of the Society of Satellite Professionals International and an Officer of the Intelsat Organization, served as the first Vice Chairman; and Fred Durant, Assistant Director of the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution, served as the first Executive Director. Ambassador deAlwis and Counselor Chitty of the Sri Lankan embassy played a key role in the Foundation’s creation.
In September 1983, at the World Communications Year celebrations held at the United Nations, Arthur C. Clarke agreed to serve as honorary chairman of the Clarke Foundation of the United States. He served in this capacity until his death in March 2008.
Read about the Arthur C. Clarke Awards