In about 1969/70 I was on a tanker with a satellite dish. To call goonhilly you had to stop the ship, get a really good nav fix (probably bearings off a pair of radar beacons) and contact Portishead Radio by morse on short wave with the details. If you were lucky you got a timeslot, transponder frequency, beacon frequency, rise time, rise azimuth and orbital inclination.
At rise time you steered the dish around the rise azimuth till you saw the beacon on the spectrum analyser, then started tracking up the inclination. although semi-automatic some manual steering was still required. Then you tuned the transciever to the transponder & listened to other peoples calls till your timeslot came up. The Skipper or the Chief engineer then spoke to head office for a few minutes till the end of your slot. Typically a 25 minute pass was split into 2 minute slots.
Frankly, compared to SSB on short wave it was a right palava. It didn't really catch on till Inmarsat A came out.
But I loved it. Real satellites. Goonhilly. Mechanical x-y resolvers to do the tracking. GOONHILLY! I was talking to Goonhilly on a sputnik! spectrum analysers, double logarithmic AGC Cascaded filters, link budgets, sun avoidance, band choice, horizontal sextant angles, low-elevation diffraction, 350ms propagation delay, true and false horizons. Goonhilly. satellites.
God, it was dodgy and awkward and unreliable, but it was so much fun. Now THAT was cutting edge