Goonhilly – Yesterday, Today + Tomorrow

November 2011 SatMagazine Cover

SatMagazine Cover November 2011

Having been involved one way and another with the Goonhilly satellite earth station for some 35 years, imagine my delight at being asked by Satnews Publishers to write an Insight Feature about it for their monthly SatMagazine. I viewed this as a real honour, since Satnews Publishers is a long-established and arguably the market-leading source of news and in-depth articles about space and the satellite communications industry.

The timescale was very tight and over a weekend, but so what. The only problem was that I needed to gather and verify all sorts of facts, and that meant ruining the weekend of a few colleagues in the UK. They were brilliant and went out of their way to help me. I disturbed one person at 9:00pm UK time on the Saturday night while he was out with his family at the Blackpool Illuminations.
He was good about it but I don’t think his wife will ever speak to me again!

To view the Insight Feature at SatMagazine click here:

“Goonhilly – Yesterday, Today + Tomorrow”

If, after reading the Feature, any of you are interested in the details of the early days of Goonhilly and of the dawn of the satellite communications era in general then I can recommend an excellent book. The “Historical Overview of Satellite Communications” by P T & J D Thompson appears as Chapter 2 of Barry Evans’ book which is obtainable from Amazon here:

Satellite Communication Systems (IEE Telecommunications Series)

Just follow the link (Ctrl-Click) and then copy & paste ISBN number 085296899X into the “Search” box on the Amazon website. You might notice that I’ve set this up so that the Amazon site you’re directed to depends on which country you are in. If there isn’t an Amazon store in your country then you should be directed to the USA site. I do try to be user-friendly!
Seriously, if you find an issue with this (my coding has always been a bit suspect) and it doesn’t operate correctly would you please let me know via the comment form below so I can trouble-shoot the code.

Paul Thompson is an old friend and has spent his career in satellite communications. He’s held senior positions in BT and was the UK delegate to INTELSAT. I defer to Paul – he really knows his stuff!

I don’t know whether you know Barry Evans. I’ve known Barry for years, and he has been a leading light in satellite communications for decades. His book, which contains contributions from a number of experts in their fields, has to be one of the best books available on satellite communications. It’s a must for the library of any serious practitioner in the satcoms world.

While on the subject of recommended books, I could provide a list. In fact I will, but in slower time and probably on a static page on this website. For now, though, have a look at this next one while you’re on the Amazon site:

Book - VSATs very small aperture terminals

VSATs Book Cover

“VSATs very small aperture terminals” (IEE Telecommunications Series 28)

Edited by John Everett this book provides a unique, detailed insight into the development of a number of the early VSAT systems circa 1992. Some systems have since fallen by the wayside, while others are now almost household names.
Again, just copy & paste ISBN number 0863412009 into the “Search” box on the Amazon website.

John Everett is another driving force in satellite communications. He was head of the British National Space Centre’s Civil Satellite Communications area for a number of years.

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Kindle

If you’re really getting into Christmas shopping mode then you have GOT TO buy an Amazon Kindle. I’ve had one for about 6 months now and it’s transformed my reading life.

I can download a book from almost anywhere in the world in about 60 seconds and have it in clear, readable, searchable, bookmark-able form. The battery lasts up to 2 weeks between charges. It stores about 3,000 books but, better still, I can send all my PDF files, Word documents etc to it so I don’t have to be stuck in front of a computer. You can also get a free computer-resident Kindle Reader too.
If you do buy one, for yourself or as a present, then it’s definitely worth getting the (admittedly pricey) cover for it – the one that includes a built in LED light – for reading on a plane at night, or in bed next to a sleeping friend or pet.
I think I’ll write a separate blog post about the Kindle, it’s transformational!

Now, you’re probably thinking that I’ve got shares in Amazon. I haven’t, but I do get a small commission for any purchases made via this website. I make no apologies at all for this. I look at it as a bit of a contribution to my time, cost of consumables, software licence costs etc, though in practice I’ll probably use it to buy a beer at the end of the day!

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