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the first active communications satellite

Telstar was launched from Cape Canaveral on July 10, 1962. It relayed its first live television pictures -- of a flag outside its ground station in Andover, Maine -- on the date of its launch, and relayed the first live transatlantic television signal on July 23.

The satellite was built by Bell Telephone Laboratories. It was roughly spherical, was 34 inches long, and weighed 170 pounds. It was designed to receive microwave signals from a ground station, amplify them, and rebroadcast them.


Although it was launched by NASA, the satellite was owned by AT&T, and operated as part of a multi-national agreement between AT&T, Bell Telephone Laboratories, NASA, the British Post Office, and the French National Post & Telecom Office to develop satellite communication.

The first Telstar satellite went out of service on February 21, 1963. The Telstar program continued, however, and by 1964 two more Telstars had been successfully deployed. A number of television broadcasting satellites carry the Telstar name to this day.

Top: The first television image broadcast from Telstar.
Bottom: A show starring Yves Montand (shown as viewed in England) was sent live from France to England and the United States via Telstar.

first transmissions from Telstar

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The Robinson Library >> Telecommunication

This page was last updated on July 10, 2018.