Profile America: Spaced Out

Monday, December 19 — The satellite Atlas was launched from Cape Canaveral on this date in 1958. The spacecraft would make history the next day, beaming the first voice heard from space — a recording of President Eisenhower with a 58-word Christmas greeting. These words came at the height of the Cold War and early in the space race. Just 14½ months earlier, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite. Today, satellites daily perform vital functions — tracking the weather, relaying millions of telephone calls and computer links, as well as radio and television signals. Currently, there are around 1,400 active satellites in Earth’s orbit. Satellite telecommunications in the U.S. involves nearly 500 establishments in a $6.8 billion a year business, and employs over 8,200 people.

Profile America is in its 20th year as a public service of the U.S. Census Bureau.

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