Twenty years ago this Monday, December 16, I was fortunate to witness the launch of Telstar 401 from Cape Canaveral, Florida. My mother's career allowed our family to experience some truly unique events
My mother was a leader of the AT&T Skynet Satellite Services Group in 1993. Her team included Marketing and Product Managers, Operations and Engineering for the fleet of Telstar 3 series satellites. These satellites were used primarily for TV Broadcast. The 400 Series were designed by AT&T Laboratories to replace the aging fleet.
On September 28, 1993, AT&T made their official announcement from the Hawley, PA Control Center. For its' time, Telstar 401 was touted as the industry's most advanced video and data service provider, beaming ABC, FOX and PBS across the US in the mid 90's. Beyond its' television broadcasting abilities, Telstar offered services for universities to broadcast their college level courses. This was ground breaking then; common place now.
Pictured below is former Astronaut Terry Hart. Terry was part of the 1978 NASA selection and flew on the Challenger in 1984. After his NASA experience, he brought his talents to AT&T's Skynet Satellite Services. There, he teamed up with Mom and the AT&T Labs design team for the Telstar 401 project.
During the third year of service, in early January 1997, Telstar was destroyed in a massive burst of solar wind (also known as a coronal mass ejection) AT&T declared Telstar "permanently out of service" shortly after this event. Rumor has it that it was broadcasting Star Trek at the moment of black out.
Despite Telstar's early demise, it's intended life span was projected into 2005 or 2007 based on it's internal fuel storage. After which it was to have the 'plug pulled' and then drifting into free orbit as space junk.
Below is a collection of highlights from the Telstar 401 Mission Overview and Cape Canaveral trip I kept all these years.
It was time in my life when it felt anything could happen in New York City.
Paul Walker reminds us the shortness and sudden nature of life. I've been jogging my memory all day about the day I ran into him in Lower Manhattan. Specifically Soho, north of Canal Street at West Broadway.
A few short days before I ran into Paul, He had just won the 'Best On Screen Team' with Vin Diesel at the 2002 MTV Movie Awards. This was broadcasted six days before I had met him. During the broadcast I gathered one item of his trademark style was his laces out Vans sneakers.
This observation came in handy spoting Paul days later wondering through Chinatown towards Soho.
It was his sneakers that confirmed his appearence to me. As I decided to approach Paul, I'm not sure exactly what crossed my mind. I know that the first thing out of my mouth was something about enjoying the first Fast and Furious film and that I owned a 1984 Supra– A car with alot of street creed in the Japanese car racing culture.
He immediately made and welcomed conversation about cars with me for a few minutes. He was totally cool about pausing for a few minutes to chat on the street.
As we wrapped up, I recalled one other detail about him. That was he was a big car guy beyond the film and especially that he owned a Nissan Skyline imported from Japan. He confirmed that this was true. Cool stuff to hear first hand and exciting for that time. As we parted, I asked him if was ok to do a quick photo. With my long arm I did a quick selfie (Yet to defined as such for another 11 years and with a 2001 HP Digital Camera on loan from my Uncle). My photo and abbreviated story (tweet below) was featured with similar fan stories on Buzzfeed.com
Below are a number of my digital photos of a Post September 11th New York City. At this time I was devoted to documenting and capturing the City in the wake the attacks. They are companied along with Paul's Nissan Skyline and my Toyota Supra photographed in 2002. In my quick impression of Paul, I'll remember him this way; incredibly approachable and for all his sucess in Hollywood and a good guy.
His death has impacted me and reflects back on a brief moment I had with him. Clearly he made alot of positive of impact on people through out his film career and his life.