Knowledge unlocks a world of possibilities The Robinson Library

Home About The Library Navigation Help Sitemap Terms of Use Contact Information

  EconomicsTransportation and CommunicationsArtificial Satellite Telecommunications


the common name of the world's largest commercial satellite communications services provider


The International Telecommunications Satellite Consortium (ITSC) was formed on August 11, 1964, with eleven participating countries. On April 6, 1965, Intelsat I (nicknamed Early Bird) was placed in geostationary orbit above the Atlantic Ocean, thereby becomming the world's first commercial communications satellite. Early Bird began providing television and voice services on June 28, 1965.

model of an Intelsat II series satelliteBlue Bird (Intelsat II F-1) was launched on October 26, 1966 for emplacement above the Pacific Ocean. It failed to achieve a synchronous orbit, however, when the apogee engine stopped firing about four seconds after ignition; it was supposed to burn for 16 seconds. The satellite, despite its nonsynchronous orbit, was used to transmit live television and other communications traffic.

Lani Bird (Intelsat II F-2) was launched into synchronous orbit above the Pacific near the International Date Line on January 11, 1967, linking earth stations in the United States, Hawaii, Australia, and Japan. Regular 24-hour commercial service via Lani Bird began January 27, 1967.

Canary Bird (Intelsat II F-3) was launched into synchronous orbit above the Atlantic on March 22, 1967. The last satellite in the Intelsat II series was launched into orbit above the Pacific on September 27, 1967.

The world's first global satellite communications system was completed when Intelsat III was placed in geostationary orbit above the Indian Ocean, on July 1, 1969. On July 20, 1969, viewers around the world were able to watch Neil Armstrong become the first man to walk on the Moon, thanks to Intelsat.

The ITSC was superseded by the International Telecommunications Satellite Organization (ITSO) in 1973, by which time it had 80 participating nations. On July 18, 2001, the quasi-governmental ITSO became a privately owned and operated company, under the name Intelsat, Ltd. Intelsat currently owns and operates a constellation of 51 communications satellites, and provides telecommunications services in almost 150 countries, territories and dependencies.

The official Intelsat website is

Questions or comments about this page?

  The Robinson Library > Economics > Transportation and Communications > Artificial Satellite Telecommunications

This page was last updated on November 07, 2015.

About This Site | Navigation Help | Sitemap | Terms of Use | Contact