Noah A. Samara is a Chief Executive Officer of WorldSpace, the world's first to launch satellite radio system. He also played a pivotal role in the foundation of XM Satellite Radio. He claimed what motivated him to found WorldSpace is to give millions of people in Asia and Africa access to information. Samara's effort to launch a third satellite over Latin America got him embroiled in a bitter fight with the U.S. Department of Defense and Boeing, which use the L-band for communication during flight tests.
Noah Samara was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to a Sudanese father and an Ethiopian mother. He left his home country and went to the United States at the age of 17 in search of better education. Samara received his bachelor’s degree in English from East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania in 1978, a master’s degree in international business from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and a doctor of jurisprudence from Georgetown University Law School. He is an attorney that has specialized in international communications satellite laws.
Before the foundation of WorldSpace, Samara was involved in the development of both geostationary and low earth orbit (LEO) satellite systems since the mid-1980s. Samara's early career was in satellite telecommunications, first with Geostar Corporation and later with the Washington law firm of Venable, Baetjer, Howard & Civiletti.
Samara, at the age of 34, became the founder, chairman and chief executive officer of the internationally known and now bankrupt WorldSpace Corporation.
Samara has served as Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and the Director of the Company since the inception of WorldSpace. A veteran of the satellite industry, Mr. Samara has been an advisor to numerous global telecommunications and broadcasting organizations over the years, on a wide range of business and regulatory issues. He has published articles in the fields of satellite communications and broadcasting. Mr. Samara holds a MS Degree in International Business Diplomacy from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and a Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University School of Law. He has also received numerous awards from governments and institutions specifically for his work with WorldSpace.
Samara once told the graduates of East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania at a commencement ceremony:
In the mid-1980s, I read something that changed my life. It was an article in the Washington Post about AIDS in Africa and how it was spreading because millions of people had no information or the wrong information.It became clear to me that people weren’t simply dying of disease; they were dying of ignorance.Something had to be done. I came up with the idea of launching a satellite over Africa that would broadcast digital radio across the continent to inexpensive portable receivers. In 1990, I quit my job and devoted my body, mind and spirit to a quest that required securing international regulatory approval from 127 countries, designing a new communications system, building and launching satellites, establishing a corporation, hiring staff and raising capital to pay for it all. We needed around $1.5 billion to make it happen.