In the 1950s, there were no communications satellites. Global broadcasting, for the most part, used undersea cables. This reliance on fragile cables concerned the US military. Worried that a Soviet attack could have forced the US to use unreliable long-range radio for communications, American researchers looked for a solution. The result of their research was Project Needles, later renamed Project West Ford, a plan that would see rockets deposit tons of copper needles into space, eventually forming a solid ring around the globe that could be used for long-distance communication. After one failed and one semi-successful trial, the project was scrapped, with Telstar, the first modern satellite, already orbiting the globe. For a detailed look at how Project West Ford was conceived, prototyped, launched, and canceled, head to Wired.