The world was a very different place in 1986. Via Satellite the magazine launched into an era where was no internet, no mobile phones, and even though it was only 30 years ago, the world at that point was standing on the verge of tremendous change, which would really manifest itself shortly after ‘86.
Tragedies in North America and the Soviet Union
There were a number of tragedies in 1986 in terms of major news stories. One that is already mentioned in other parts of this edition was the Challenger Explosion in January 1986, which still haunts the U.S. space industry to this day. This was a really transcendental story, and is something that most people who were around then still remember today.
Another tragedy was Chernobyl. Before 1986, not many people had heard of the Ukrainian city of Chernobyl. That all changed on April 25, 1986: one of four nuclear reactors at the Chernobyl power station exploded, leading to a huge radiation issue that not just impacted Russia but also surrounding countries. It also means 30 years later, the city Chernobyl is still known throughout the world. It remains the single biggest nuclear accident to have ever taken place.
Cold War Starting to Thaw
The Berlin Wall was still up, but the winds of change were starting to blow. In Russia, Mikhail Gorbachev became the General Secretary of the Communist Party in Russia in 1985, and in the mid to late 1980s would start to effect huge changes in the Soviet Union through new policies such as Glasnost (openness) and Perestroika (restructuring). As a result of Gorbachev coming to power, the world actually felt more optimistic in 1986. In Reykjavik, Iceland, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Gorbachev would get together for a high-profile summit, something that would have seemed unthinkable only a few years before, as the two sides talked about nuclear disarmament. While the talks in Iceland ultimately did not lead to an agreement, there were still hugely significant and were definitely one of the main newsworthy events of 1986. It actually felt the world was starting to come together and that the Cold War was starting to thaw.
In the world of sport, perhaps the most iconic event of the year was when U.S. Boxer Mike Tyson became the youngest Heavyweight Champion of the World in October 1986. “Iron Mike,” as he was known, would probably become the most iconic boxers of the last 30 years and has never been far from headlines, in and out of the ring.
The other major sporting event of the year was the 1986 Soccer World Cup held in Mexico, which was won by Argentina. The star player was Diego Maradona, and the tournament featured the infamous ‘Hand of God’ goal where Maradona punched the ball into the goal against England in the quarterfinals, and then went onto to describe the goal as the “Hand of God.
Over the course of the last 30 years, one of the great things that the satellite industry has done is be present when there are huge natural disasters. In October 1986, a huge Earthquake hit El Salvador leading to well over 1,000 deaths in one of the other great tragedies to hit the world that year.
In popular culture, the biggest grossing movie of the year was “Top Gun,” a movie that really made the name of a young Tom Cruise. In terms of music, there were many significant album releases. Paul Simon released “Graceland,” an album highly influenced by African music and sounds, which would become a worldwide hit. Other notable releases included seminal U.K. band The Smiths releasing “The Queen is Dead,” a cult hit still many years later, and U.S. rock band Bon Jovi releasing “Slippery When Wet,” which would be one of the biggest selling albums of all time.
Also that year, there was a royal wedding in the United Kingdom, with Prince Andrew marrying Sarah Ferguson. Unfortunately, unlike Via Satellite, the marriage would not last! VS