Today on Discovery
we mark the fiftieth anniversary of a
new era of the telecommunications revolution. A half century ago on July 10th,
1962, Telstar 1, the world’s first telecommunications satellite was
launched. It became the first communication
satellite to relay a television signals across the Enterprise Atlantic Ocean. Transmissions were limited to
only twenty minutes every two and a half hours due to its orbit.
To mark this occasion we present two video features. A short documentary produced in 1962 from the AT&T achieves which presents the story of how the Bell System, in cooperation with NASA, developed the Telstar satellite, and participated in the launch and the subsequent successful transmission of signals to and from the earth and space. We also present a short video segment of President John F. Kennedy inaugurating the occasion of the first transatlantic telecast during a press conference on July 23rd, 1962.
Telstar 1, was actually quite tiny. It was only 34 inches across, and weighed 171 pounds. Its solar panels produced fewer than 15 watts. Conversely, modern satellites average around 47 ft. wide and produce 1.5 kilowatts with their solar panels.
Telstar 1 had some problems one year following its launch.
had tested a high-altitude nuclear
bomb (called Starfish Prime) which energized the Earth's Van Allen Belt where
Telstar 1 went into orbit. This vast increase in radiation combined with
subsequent high-altitude blasts, including a Soviet test in October,
overwhelmed Telstar's fragile transistors and it went out of service in early
December 1962. United States
It was restarted in early January 1963. The additional radiation associated with its return to full sunlight once again caused a transistor failure, this time irreparably, and Telstar 1 went completely out of service on February 21, 1963.
Telstar is still up there in space, according to the US Space Objects Registry, Telstar 1 and 2 were still in orbit as of May 2012 surrounded by thousands of its dead satellite brethren.