Great emphasis has been placed on commercialization of most satellite applications over the past decade. Of the nearly 1200 planned remote sensing, meteorological, and communications satellites to be launched in the next five to six years the overwhelming percentage of them will be commercial systems. Nevertheless, the bulk of systems planned for navigational services, search and rescue, meteorological and emergency services as well as defense communications and surveillance satellite systems will be publicly funded and operated.

There are continuing discussions within the context of the Japan-U.S. Science, Technology and Satellite Applications Program of possible joint or international collaboration on such projects as emergency and disaster warning and relief satellites, earth observation, or teleeducation and telehealth satellite networks. It might be productive if future discussions about the ultimate institutional reform and restructure of INTELSAT and Inmarsat could somehow be linked to future discussions of provision of essential public service via national governmental agencies.

Published: December 1998; WTEC Hyper-Librarian