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Honoring individuals who have led the satellite industry in making a better world

The Society of Satellite Professionals International (SSPI) announced six new inductees for the 2016 Satellite Hall of Fame.  They will join more than 40 Hall of Fame members including Dr. Arthur C. Clarke, Dr. Harold Rosen, Olof Lundberg, Eddy Hartenstein, Frederic d’Allest, Sidney Topol, Takayushi Yoshida, Mary Ann Elliott, Mary Frost, Peter Jackson, Dick Tauber, Dirk Breynaert, Mark Dankberg, Susan Irwin and Robert Berry.

The 2016 honorees, in alphabetical order, are John Celli, President & CEO, Space Systems Loral; Richard Hadsall, Chief Innovation Officer, EMC; Penelope Longbottom, President, Longbottom Communications, a division of Sage Communications; Philip A. Rubin, President & CEO, RFK Engineering Solutions; Phillip Spector, Of Counsel, Milbank; and Andrew Sukawaty, Non-Executive Chairman, Inmarsat.

“The 2016 inductees into the Satellite Hall of Fame are more than just recognized leaders in business, technology, deal-making and communications,” said SSPI Executive Director Robert Bell. “Their careers offer lessons to our industry on how to build a challenging and rewarding career in a business that changes the world for the better every day.”

The Hall of Fame Ceremony will take place at the 2016 Hall of Fame Benefit Dinner on March 8 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, where the Hall of Fame inductees will be presented with Ariane trophies courtesy of Arianespace.  Hall of Fame members are selected by a committee of industry leaders chaired by Richard Wolf, Executive Vice President, The Switch and past Chairman of SSPI. Committee members include Dianne VanBeber of Intelsat, Tim Jackson of Ateme, Thomas Van Den Driessche of Newtec, Jean-Paul Hoffmann of Radio 100.7 Luxembourg, David Cavossa and Dr. Denis Curtin.

The SSPI Satellite Hall of Fame was introduced in 1987 to recognize the enormous contributions of the visionaries and pioneers who have made possible the age of satellite communications – individuals who have devoted their careers to the advancement of technology and to helping build the political and commercial foundations of the industry.

The 2016 Satellite Hall of Fame Inductees

John Celli
President & CEO, Space Systems Loral

John Celli has dedicated his career to creating satellites and technology that makes the world a better place.  He joined Space Systems Loral as an engineer in 1981 after six years with Alenia S.p.A in Rome. Thirty-one years later, he became President of SSL, which he had helped to become the world’s leading provider of commercial communications satellites with a 30% market share over the previous decade.

In engineering, manufacturing and test management positions, and as Chief Operating Officer beginning in 2001, John guided many technology advances to market.  They included the world’s first 20-kW satellite, the first high-throughput satellite and multiple advances in antenna technologies and data handling systems.  One of John’s proudest accomplishments was serving as executive director of SSL’s Intelsat IX program, where he oversaw the development and delivery of seven advanced multi-frequency spacecraft. When the first of those satellites launched in 2001, it was among the largest and most powerful of its time and marked an advance in satellite switched-time division, with a multiple-access subsystem within the payloads to achieve more efficient traffic loading on a number of the transponders.  Under his management, the company also built the world’s two highest-capacity satellites in orbit today and more recently opened a smallsat production facility that manufactures small earth observation spacecraft for Google’s Skybox Imaging.

Inside SSL, John is known for his integrity and commitment to the industry as well as his dedication to helping talented individuals grow and succeed. He takes a particular interest in encouraging young people to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and careers. He engages with engineering students at local universities with motivational speeches and ensures that SSL participates in organizations that support STEM education, such as the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Change the Equation (CTEq), and Techbridge.  His enthusiastic support has driven SSL’s participation in SSPI’s Promise Awards, and no less than six SSL employees have received this prestigious honor for young employees who make extraordinary contributions to their companies.

Richard Hadsall
Chief Innovation Officer, EMC

Richard Hadsall is one of that rare breed of technologists who is also a successful company founder and leader.  Crescomm Transmission Services, launched in 1976, was his first venture, which evolved in 1981 into Maritime Telecommunications Network or MTN.  Five years later, Richard developed a technology that would forever transform communications at sea: the motion-stabilized VSAT antenna, which could maintain its lock on a spacecraft 22,000 miles away while a ship pitched and rolled underneath it.  Under his technology leadership, MTN pioneered a unique business model, in which the company became the communications partner of its government and cruise line customers, and introduced a series of passenger and crew services that generated revenue shared by the cruise line and MTN.  Success with cruise lines allowed the company to expand into other maritime markets including ferries, private yachts, oil & gas vessels and commercial ships.  This ultimately led to its acquisition, in 2015, by EMC.

Though he is known as the “grandfather of maritime VSAT,” stabilizing an antenna was only one of Richard’s many technology “firsts.”  He pioneered the use of C- and Ku-band broadband at sea for delivering voice, Internet and video.  His work enabled the first live broadcast from a nuclear submarine for ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and a live uplink from a moving Amtrak train for the program’s week-long “Whistle Stop” coverage of the 2008 Presidential election.  In 2011, he became one of the few satellite engineers to receive an Emmy Award for retrofitting a Ford F350 pickup into the “Bloom-Mobile,” a satellite-based mobile communications platform that allowed the late NBC reporter David Bloom to broadcast live coverage of the War in Iraq while moving across the Iraqi desert at speeds up to 50 mph.

When asked about his long and entrepreneurial career in the industry, Richard said, “Having the opportunity to pioneer the merging of satellite and communications technology more than three decades ago has led to very a satisfying and productive career. It’s an honor to have been part of those teams and to be recognized through SSPI’s induction into the Satellite Hall of Fame.”

Penelope Longbottom
President, Longbottom Communications, a division of Sage Communications

Penelope Longbottom has devoted her career to explaining satellite to the world in support of a global industry driving for growth.  She entered the industry in 1985 as Director of Communications for Hughes Communications.  In her first year on the job, she developed and managed communications and long-lead marketing for the startup of Japan’s first commercial satellite company, JCSAT, of which Hughes was part owner, as well for as the troubled launch of Leasat 3 for the US Navy.  Carried into space aboard Shuttle flight STS 51-D, the satellite was left drifting in low Earth orbit by the failure of its booster stage.  Repeated attempts by the crew to recover it proved fruitless, but a follow-up mission, STS 51-I, recovered and repaired the spacecraft in an historic 2 days of extravehicular activity, after which Hughes boosted it successfully to GEO orbit.

Promoted to Hughes Communications vice president in 1993, Penelope handled communications for the launch of American Mobile Satellite, the first mobile satellite system in the United States, and managed the branding, communications and long-lead marketing for the new Hughes business, DirecTV, the first digital direct-to-home TV service.  While serving with Hughes, she was instrumental in the founding of the Satellite Industry Association (SIA), the industry’s lobbying association.  She guided the association’s early mission and development as its first Chair and hired its first executive director.

Leaving Hughes, Penelope went on to shape brand identity and go-to-market strategies as a senior marketing communications executive with Lockheed Martin Intersputnik, Lockheed Martin Space & Strategic Missiles and XM Satellite Radio.  She founded Longbottom Communications, a branding and marketing company serving the industry, in 2000 and merged it with Sage Communications in 2013.  In addition to her professional achievements, Penelope has served in leadership roles in the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of SSPI, Women in Aerospace (WIA) and the Washington Space Business Roundtable (WSBR).

Philip A. Rubin
President & CEO, RKF Engineering Solutions LLC

Philip Rubin has been the technology innovator behind some of the most fundamental advances in the history of satellite.  He began his career in the 1950s at ITT Research Laboratories, where he designed and built C-band traveling wave tube amplifiers.  Five years later, he joined the Hughes Aircraft Company, where he contributed work to Syncom 2 and Syncom 3, which became the world’s first geostationary satellite.   He moved to Geneva in 1965 to become the International Telecommunications Union’s first satellite expert.  That job took him to India, where he developed the Centre for Research and Training in Satellite Communications, which helped the India’s satellite industry literally get off the ground.

By 1970, Philip was back in the United States as Chief Scientist and Director of the Office of Science and Technology for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  Under his leadership, the Public Broadcasting System and National Public Radio became the first broadcasters to use satellite for program distribution across the United States. While working for the CPB, Philip also developed improved VHF and UHF receivers for PBS and installed earth stations in northern Alaska to provide telemedicine services.

In the early 1980s, Philip joined PanAmSat, the company that broke the monopoly on international satellite communications, where he was to work for the next seventeen years. His contributions to that precedent-setting company included designing the new satellite system, hiring and training the technical staff, coordinating orbital locations, and overseeing deployment of eleven satellites in orbit.  By the time he left the company, PanAmSat was the second largest satellite operator in the world.

Leaving PanAmSat, Philip founded RKF Engineering Solutions, which continues to thrive today. For his many accomplishments, he has been elected a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and a Fellow of the AIAA and has received IEEE Centennial award and the AIAA’s Aerospace Communications Award.

Phillip Spector
Of Counsel, Milbank

Phillip Spector has been a leader in the industry, as a lawyer and business executive, for decades.  He began his career in government, where he served as a law clerk to a Supreme Court Justice and worked in the White House as Associate Assistant to the President.  He then entered the private practice of law, and in the 1980s helped to lay the groundwork at the FCC for, and then negotiated, the industry’s first sales of transponders.  He also was PanAmSat’s outside counsel during its years-long battle to break the Intelsat monopoly on the provision of international satellite services.

In the 1990s, he joined the international law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where he served as Managing Partner of the Washington office and Chairman of the Communications & Technology Group.  In that role, he acted as a key advisor to SES, helping to negotiate the 2001 acquisition of GE Americom by SES – the first trans-Atlantic merger in the industry’s history.  He also was the lead attorney for the groundbreaking SkyBridge project, which successfully fought battles at the ITU and the FCC to develop global rules to allow non-geostationary satellite systems to share spectrum with geostationary satellites.

In 2005, he moved to the client side, becoming General Counsel of Intelsat, and in that position guided the historic merger of Intelsat with PanAmSat in 2006.  Antitrust experts expected that the deal would not be approved, but it went through without any divestitures of assets.  In 2007, his responsibilities at Intelsat grew with his appointment as Executive Vice President, Business Development, and he later became a member of the Intelsat Board of Directors.

In 2013, Phil left Intelsat and returned to his roots in private practice.  He joined the Washington office of the international law firm, Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy, where he provides clients with representation in a wide range of corporate and regulatory matters, is looked to for strategic counsel, and negotiates transactions and alliances. As before, he maintains a strong focus on satellite and telecommunications, because, as he says, “we in the industry are privileged to explore the frontiers of outer space, while working on projects that benefit the globe’s interconnectivity, all within a business environment that is constantly changing.”

Andrew Sukawaty
Non-Executive Chairman, Inmarsat

In 2004, when Andrew Sukawaty was appointed CEO of Inmarsat after a quarter-century in the mobile and cable TV industries, the 25-year-old company generated annual revenues of less than $400 million and was valued at $1.5 billion.  It provided communication services to its customers in primarily voice and low speed data.

At the end of Andrew’s tenure as executive Chairman in 2014, the company had almost quadrupled its annual revenues to $1.4 billion, increased its valuation almost seven times to nearly $10 billion and was close to launching the world’s first, globally available mobile broadband satellite fleet able to deliver 50 megabits per second anywhere in the world.

Andrew was originally engaged by Inmarsat in 2003, when he led the private-equity buyout of the former United Nations treaty organization, followed just two years later by an initial public offering.  During this period, the company invested US$1.5 billion in building and launching the Inmarsat-4 (I-4) fleet, which introduced the world to BGAN (Broadband Global Area Network), capable of delivering services with rates of up to 1 Mbps.  In a 2012 interview with Via Satellite, Andrew called this the biggest investment risk the company took during his tenure. It launched a range of services that allowed users, from governments to aid agencies, to do things they could not have imagined just five years earlier. It also allowed the company to expand rapidly into aviation and other new markets.

The I-4 constellation was only the beginning. Under Andrew’s management, Inmarsat acquired Stratos Global and SkyWave Mobile, formerly independent Inmarsat service providers, to evolve the company’s business from a multi-tier distribution model led by its Land Earth Station partners to a consolidated distributor-led direct and indirect distribution model. This was followed by the acquisition of Segovia, a provider of managed communications services for the US Department of Defense and other government agencies, which deepened the company’s penetration of the government-military market as well as broadening its service offering.  While acquiring companies to expand the company’s horizons, Andrew also directed investment to the modernization of safety services for maritime and aviation, and increased charitable contributions to support emergency services and humanitarian aid by the UN and Télécoms Sans Frontières.

In 2010, just five years after the I-4 fleet had first entered service, Andrew announced an initial investment of $1.6 billion to construct the most powerful high-speed global mobile broadband constellation ever developed.  Inmarsat-5, now better known as Global Xpress, introduced global commercial service to aircraft in 2015 and is already delivering 50 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload speeds to ships and land terminals.  This innovation has placed Inmarsat – once known only for its satphones and text terminals – at the forefront of delivering a new generation of mobile satellite services to government and industrial customers around the world.