I heard that Arthur C. Clarke was the inventor of the idea of the satellites.

If that's true, can you please tell me in where or in what work he presents the idea of satellite?

  • 9
    Sir Arthur isn't thought of as the inventor of satellites, but of satellites in geosynchronous orbit. However, as cp21yos points out below, Herman Potočnik had already calculated the geosynchronous orbit in 1928. Arthur C. Clarke independently came up with the same idea in 1945.
    – Gaurav
    Commented Apr 13, 2011 at 7:25
  • 7
    I've only ever heard him referred to as "the inventor of the communications satellite", a more specific term.
    – jwenting
    Commented Apr 29, 2011 at 9:43
  • 4
    He published a paper speculating about the ability of three orbiting satellites being able to allow people around the world to communicate with each other (only three were required in this plan), I don't believe he invented anything. Commented Dec 6, 2015 at 22:14
  • 1
    The only person we can call the inventor of satellites is Sir Isaac Newton.
    – Beta
    Commented Dec 7, 2015 at 5:13
  • 2
    @Beta Satellites predated Newton.
    – wizzwizz4
    Commented Feb 21, 2018 at 19:54

3 Answers 3


He wasn't the original source for the idea/actual inventor of the concept but starting with the article mentioned by Bill and later ones he was a big proponent of the uses you could put geostationary satellites to. Especially the concept of communications and its impact on society. Not surprising as he was an instructor at a Radio School and a radar specialist during World War II (see ArthurCClarke.net).

His impact is recognised by the fact that the geostationary orbit 36000km about the equator is called a "Clarke Orbit" and it is recognised by the International Astronomical Union.

The idea for geostationary satellites originally was published by Herman Potočnik in 1928 in his book Das Problem der Befahrung des Weltraums - der Raketen-Motor (The Problem of Space Travel - The Rocket Motor). However, Wikipedia's article on Potočnik states the idea was

first put forward by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

It was translated to English in Science Wonder Stories in 1929 (see 1, 2 & 3).


He published the proposal in Wireless World magazine in 1945.


Credit for inventing the idea of a satellite (i.e., an artificial satellite in Earth orbit) goes not to Clarke but to Edward Everett Hale and his 1869 novelette "The Brick Moon" which is available, along with its 1870 sequel "Life in the Brick Moon", at Project Gutenberg.

From Wikipedia:

"The Brick Moon" is a novella by American writer Edward Everett Hale, published serially in The Atlantic Monthly starting in 1869. It is a work of speculative fiction containing the first known depiction of an artificial satellite.


"The Brick Moon" is presented as a journal. It describes the construction and launch into orbit of a sphere, 200 feet in diameter, built of bricks. The device is intended as a navigational aid, but is accidentally launched with people aboard. They survive, and so the story also provides the first known fictional description of a space station.

Publication history

"The Brick Moon" was first released serially in three parts in The Atlantic Monthly in 1869. A fourth part, entitled "Life on the Brick Moon", was also published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1870. It was collected as the title work in Hale's anthology The Brick Moon and Other Stories in 1899.

The following excerpt describes the proposed satellite. (The author seems to think that a satellite launched along a meridian will stay on that meridian, its orbit rotating with the earth.)

Failing that, after various propositions, he suggested the Brick Moon. The plan was this: If from the surface of the earth, by a gigantic peashooter, you could shoot a pea upward from Greenwich, aimed northward as well as upward; if you drove it so fast and far that when its power of ascent was exhausted, and it began to fall, it should clear the earth, and pass outside the North Pole; if you had given it sufficient power to get it half round the earth without touching, that pea would clear the earth forever. It would continue to rotate above the North Pole, above the Feejee Island place, above the South Pole and Greenwich, forever, with the impulse with which it had first cleared our atmosphere and attraction. If only we could see that pea as it revolved in that convenient orbit, then we could measure the longitude from that, as soon as we knew how high the orbit was, as well as if it were the ring of Saturn.

"But a pea is so small!"

"Yes," said Q., "but we must make a large pea." Then we fell to work on plans for making the pea very large and very light. Large,—that it might be seen far away by storm-tossed navigators: light,—that it might be the easier blown four thousand and odd miles into the air; lest it should fall on the heads of the Greenlanders or the Patagonians; lest they should be injured and the world lose its new moon. But, of course, all this lath- and-plaster had to be given up. For the motion through the air would set fire to this moon just as it does to other aerolites, and all your lath-and-plaster would gather into a few white drops, which no Rosse telescope even could discern. "No," said Q. bravely, "at the least it must be very substantial. It must stand fire well, very well. Iron will not answer. It must be brick; we must have a Brick Moon."

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