55 Years Later: Commemorating First Space Broadcast

On Dec. 19, 1958, a pre-recorded message from President Dwight D. Eisenhower was sent out from a satellite via short wave. It offered hopes for peace on earth and goodwill toward men everywhere. Of course, it also let the Soviets know the U.S. was catching up in the space race.

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ARUN RATH, HOST:

Before we come back to Earth, here's a little space history with a holiday touch. Fifty-five years ago this week on December 19, 1958, the first radio broadcast was transmitted from space. An American satellite beamed down the voice of Dwight D. Eisenhower via shortwave.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER: This is the president of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance, my voice is coming to you from a satellite circling in outer space.

RATH: Now, shortwave broadcast from space weren't exactly high fidelity. So I'll just read you the rest. Through this unique means, I convey to you and to all mankind, America's wish for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men everywhere.

Of course, the Cold War was on, and the satellite's real message was less holiday peace and love, and more, you've got sputnik? We've got our own sputnik. But after just 12 days in space, the satellite's batteries ran out. And in January 1959, the satellite burned upon re-entering Earth's atmosphere.

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