TELSTAR 1: The World’s First Active Communication Satellite

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Today is a special day as we commemorate the anniversary of Telstar 1, the world’s first active communications satellite and was launched today on July 10, 1962. Telstar 1 was a joint project between AT&T, Bell Labs, NASA, and the British General Post Office. It was designed to relay television and telephone signals between the United States and Europe. The satellite was placed into a low Earth orbit and successfully transmitted the first live transatlantic television signals, including the first live television images of the United States and Europe.

Development of Telstar 1 began’s:

The initial planning and development of Telstar 1 began in the late 1950s. The organizations contributed their expertise and resources to design and launch the Telstar satellite.AT&T, through its subsidiary American Telephone and Telegraph Company, played a major role in the development of Telstar. Bell Labs, which was the research arm of AT&T, was responsible for the satellite’s design and technology. NASA provided the launch vehicle and expertise in space missions, while the British GPO collaborated on the project to facilitate communications between the United States and Europe.

After long wait of 12 years on July 10, 1962, Telstar 1 successfully launched into space but the satellite remained operational for a relatively short period of time. It was powered by onboard batteries, which had limited capacity, and could only operate for a few months. The satellite ceased regular operations in November 1962, although intermittent signals were received until February 1963.

telstar 1
Launch of Telstar 1

Structure and Weight of Telstar 1 :

Telstar 1 had a weight of approximately 77 kilograms (170 pounds). It was designed as a cylindrical satellite with a diameter of about 87.6 centimeters (34.5 inches) and a height of approximately 170 centimeters (67 inches). It featured an aluminum alloy shell that protected the internal electronic components. The satellite had four antennas mounted on its surface for communication purposes, including signal reception and transmission. Telstar 1 was equipped with solar panels to generate electrical power for its operations. The solar panels were positioned on the satellite’s cylindrical body. Telstar 1 was equipped with two transponders, operating in the microwave C-band frequency range, which received, amplified, and retransmitting signals.The cost of Telstar 1, was approximately $6 million USD at the time of its development and launch in 1962. This cost covered various aspects of the project, including research, development, manufacturing, testing, and launch operations.

Huge horn antenna at the AT&T Andover satellite ground station at Andover, maine.

History made by Telstar 1:

Sixty one year ago on July 11, 1962 Telstar 1 made history after one day of it’s launch, when it transmitted the first television signal across the Atlantic ocean between the U.S and France. Although not the first active communication satellite, it become a popular and recognizable name in the relatively new world of artificial satellites. Telstar’s first television relay by satellite was commemorated not only by France (Scott 1048), but also by two other countries, with common-design stamps. Mali issued two stamps (Scott 40 and 41) and Reunion overprinted the French stamp (Scott 344). A second set of common-design stamps was issued to commemorate the same event, but the event is noted as the first television transmission between Europe and America. On all these stamps the cities of Andover (Maine) and Pleumeur Bodou are identified, with Telstar shown in orbit, relaying signals between the two locations. The cost of Telstar 1, was approximately $3 million USD at the time of its development and launch in 1962. This cost covered various aspects of the project, including research, development, manufacturing, testing, and launch operations.


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37 thoughts on “TELSTAR 1: The World’s First Active Communication Satellite

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