Wednesday, July 10, 2013

July 10 - Telstar 1

The communications satellite Telstar 1, the first of a series of satellites with that name, was launched on July 10, 1962, from Cape Canaveral, to relay telephone calls and television broadcasts across the Atlantic. The 3-foot-long aluminum object was an international collaboration between AT&T, Bell Labs, NASA and corresponding agencies in Britain and France. It consumed 14 watts of power, about one-seventh of the power of a laptop today, generated by solar panels on its outer surface. It carried 600 phone calls and one black-and-white TV channel, a generous amount for the time. Telstar 1 was not geosynchronous; it circled in low Earth orbit every two and a half hours, with the result that it was positioned for transmissions between the U.S. and Europe for only 20 minutes in each orbit. It relayed its first live public TV picture almost two weeks later, on the afternoon of July 23, showing the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower, followed by part of a baseball game. It made the phrase “live via satellite” possible for decades.

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