Telstar – The world’s first commercial communications satellite is being exhibited in Washington D.C.


The first two Telstar satellites were experimental and nearly identical. Telstar 1 launched on top of a Thor-Delta rocket on July 10, 1962. It successfully relayed through space the first television pictures, telephone calls, and telegraph images, and provided the first live transatlantic television feed. Telstar 2 launched May 7, 1963. Telstar 1 and 2 though no longer functional, are still orbit the Earth.

Τhe backup Telstar satellite, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (Telstar Display Status)

Belonging to AT&T, the original Telstar was part of a multi-national agreement among AT&T (USA), Bell Telephone Laboratories (USA), NASA (USA), GPO (UK) and the National PTT (FR) to develop experimental satellite communications over the Atlantic Ocean.

The satellite was built by a team at Bell Telephone Laboratories that included John Robinson Pierce, Rudy Kompfner and James M. Early. The satellite is roughly spherical, measures 0,8763 meters in length, and weighs about 77 Kilogram. Six ground stations were built to communicate with Telstar, one each in the US, France, the UK, Canada, Germany and Italy.

This Telstar is a backup spacecraft to Telstar 1 and 2, transferred from the National Museum of American History to the Museum in 2006.

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