Joseph N. Pelton

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Joseph N. Pelton

Joseph N. Pelton (ca. 2007)
Birth Name Joseph N. Pelton
Occupation Engineer, Author
Nationality United States of America
Notable Works The Farthest Shore

Dr. Joseph N. Pelton is Director of the Space and Advanced Communications Research Institute (SACRI) at George Washington University. This Institute conducts state-of-the-art research on advanced satellite system concepts as well as research on the safety of the Space Shuttle, the International Space Station and commercial transportation systems.



Dr. Joseph N. Pelton received his BS. From the University of Tulsa, his M.A. from New York University and his Ph.D. from Georgetown University.

Early Career

From 1969 to 1989 Dr. Pelton held a number of positions at the COMSAT Corporation and the INTELSAT global satellite organization. These positions included Manager of INTELSAT Affairs at Comsat, Executive Assistant to the Director General of INTELSAT and Director of Strategic Policy for INTELSAT. During his time at INTELSAT he played an active role in the creation and direction of Project SHARE that offered free satellite capacity for the development of new rural and remote tele-education and tele-health programs in South American, Africa, the Middle East, and China.

From 1989 to 1996 Dr. Pelton served as Director of the Interdisciplinary Telecommunications Program at the University of Colorado. During his tenure this program grew from just over 100 graduate students to nearly 500 graduate students.


Dr. Pelton is the author of over 25 books and major research studies in the field that include writings on space safety, satellites, advanced telecommunications technology, outer space and its regulation, and the long range impact of technology on society. These include the four book series: e-Sphere, Future Talk, Future View, and Global Talk, the latter of which he was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. His latest book is License to Orbit: The Future of Commercial Spaceflight by Apogee Books and he is currently the lead editor of the new book by the International Space University entitled: To the Stars: A 21st Century Guide to Space This multi-authored book by many leading experts in space systems around the world is planned for publication in 2009.


He has appeared on national television and radio shows as an expert on satellite communications, telecommunications, and futurism for NPR International, The Jim Lehrer News Hour, the BBC, ABC and CBS Nightly News. He is on the editorial boards of The Journal of Space Communications, Earth Space Review and Space Policy. He has lectured at many universities and international conferences around the world, and often as a keynote speaker.

Organizational Affiliations

Dr. Pelton served in 1983 as the founder of the Arthur C. Clarke Foundation and remains as the Vice Chairman of its Board of Directors. This Foundation honors Sir Arthur C. Clarke, who first conceived of the Communications Satellite (as of 1945).

He is the founding President of the Society of Satellite Professionals International and a former member of the Board of Trustees of the International Institute of Communications. In 1983 President Ronald Reagan was appointed Managing Director for the National Committee for World Communications Year 1983. He is also the winner of the H. Rex Lee award for his leadership in organizing and managing the worldwide tele-health and tele-education Project SHARE for INTELSAT. He is also a Fellow of the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety and Chairman of its Academic Committee. He is currently the Vice President of the International Space Safety Foundation (ISSF) and Vice President of the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) Foundation of which he was the founding President.

He has served as an independent consultant to INTELSAT, ATT, the U.S. Congress, US WEST, Teledesic, Aegis Research Corporation, the USAF Space Command, NASDA (The Japanese National Aeronautical and Space Development Agency), NASA, SAIC, L-3 Corp., Northrop Grumman, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the United Nations.

He has served as Chairman of the Board (1992-95) and Vice President of Academic Programs and Dean (1995-96) of the International Space University of Strasbourg, France. This experimental international academic institution specializes in graduate interdisciplinary studies and hosts study programs at leading universities around the world in addition to its Masters program held in Strasbourg, France.

Dr. Pelton was the 1997-1998 chairman of a NASA and the National Science Foundation Panel of Experts on Satellite Communications. He has also served on official review panels for Japanese Space programs.

Dr. Pelton was elected to full membership in the International Academy of Astronautics in 1998 and was awarded in 2000 the Sir Arthur Clarke Award for lifetime achievement in the field of satellite communications. He was elected to the Hall of Fame of the Society of Satellite Professionals International in 2001, an honor only extended to some 50 people in the field. In 2004 he was elected an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics. He is also recognized in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who International.

Books by Joseph N. Pelton