Telstar

Telstar

On this day (July 10) 50 years ago was launched the first communication satellite. Telstar was 34.5 inches in diameter and weighed about 170 pounds. It was owned AT&T and made possible satellite communications between the US and Canada to Britain and France. As Telstar was an orbiting satellite, it was only available for about 20 minutes for each orbit (about 2.5 hrs.) when it was over the Atlantic Ocean. The first broadcast on July 23rd 1962 featured images of the Statue of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower. Later the same day was the first telephone call to use a satellite. Satellite communication had been first proposed in 1945 by Arthur C. Clarke; who later became known for his science fiction writing.

We now take satellite communications for granted. Most of network TV comes to local stations via satellite. Telephone calls and the internet are relayed between satellite ground stations so flawlessly that you can’t even tell that it is happening. Satellites are now in geosynchronous orbit which means that they are going around the earth at the same rate the earth is revolving. So the satellite appear to be sitting in the same location all the time. And it all started 40 years ago.

Telstar also inspired the hit song by the same name that was performed by the British group, The Tornadoes.