In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, the United States Navy built the first satellite communications ship, the U.S.N.S. Kingsport. The picture shows a 53- foot white plastic dome protecting a 30-foot stabilized parabolic antenna.
This ship served as a surface-based station for tracking and communications for NASA's Project Syncom. Project Syncom's objective was to demonstrate the technology for synchronous orbit communication satellites. The first Syncom was launched on February 14, 1963.
Each weekday, SPACE.com looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).