At the height of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union, American President John F. Kennedy sent a letter to Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev proposing cooperation between the two nations in providing the world with weather satellite data. At the time of the letter form Kennedy, March 7, 1962, the US had recently launched TIROS IV to continue the weather surveillance of the TIROS series. The first polar-orbiting weather satellite was Nimbus-1 launched on August 28, 1964. The Soviets did not launch an operational weather satellite until Cosmos-144 on February 28, 1967 although several previous Cosmos tested weather observing equipment.
The following are excerpts from Kennedy's initial letter urging peaceful cooperation in space exploration. Khrushchev replied on March 20, 1962.
Kennedy to Khrushchev (March 7, 1962):
Perhaps we could render no greater service to mankind through our space programs than by the joint establishment of an early operational weather satellite system. Such a system would be designed to provide global weather data for prompt use by any nation. To initiate this service, I propose that the United States and the Soviet Union each launch a satellite to photograph cloud cover and provide other agreed meteorological services for all nations. The two satellites would be placed in near-polar orbits in planes approximately perpendicular to teach other, thus providing regular coverage of all areas.
Khrushchev Reply to Kennedy (March 20, 1962):
It is difficult to overestimate the benefit which could be brought to mankind by organizing a world weather observation service with the aid of artificial earth satellites. Precise and timely weather forecast will be another important step along the way to man's conquering of nature, will help him still more successfully cope with natural calamities and open up new prospects for improving the well-being of mankind. Let us cooperate in this field, too.
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