COMSAT: A national treasure

July 22, 2005

My wife and I moved to Bethesda in 1961 and remained in the county until 1973. We still visit friends and relatives in the area. We have fond memories of the COMSAT building on Interstate 270. It should not be destroyed for the usual commercial and residential development. That would be destroying history and architectural art for meaningless progress.

When we came to the area, space exploration was new. Sputnik was up, Yuri Gagarin and John Glenn took their first rides around the planet. Mercury, then Gemini, then Apollo held us all in rapt attention. And COMSAT launched commercial communications satellites that made all this possible. A replica of that first COMSAT satellite stood in the bubble dome of the COMSAT building with its remarkable setting and appearance.

High school science teachers took their students to tour the building and see the satellite. Here was a place where what was going on in the space above our atmosphere could be connected with us here on Earth, a place where the feel of what was new could touch us.

Surely, now that the architect of this remarkable building has become world famous for this and his other accomplishments, we would not bulldoze this historical monument to make way for ordinary stuff.

We still drive by this building regularly. If it is destroyed we will miss it. And an important connection with the past, the pioneering nature of space development, will have been destroyed for a bit of profit.

It doesn't have to be like this.

Jack and Kathleen Hendricks, McConnellsburg, Pa.