The far-flung reaches of planet Earth came into focus for the average American this week in 1962 with the launching of Telstar. This was the first privately owned satellite and the first to relay live television pictures across the ocean. While a major communications advance and a sensation of the day, Telstar didn’t last long. It failed in December, was restored briefly, and then went dead in February 1963. Today, dozens of communications satellites allow television signals, telephone calls and computer hookups to all points of the Earth, and we take such instant communications for granted. There are 823 firms in the U.S. providing satellite telecommunication services, and they generate nearly $4.5 billion in revenue annually. You can find more facts about America from the U.S. Census Bureau, online at <www.census.gov>.