Thursday, July 10, 2008

Telstar - 46 Years Ago Today

This year is the 50th Anniversary of NASA. So in keeping with the year long celebration, crank up the volume and listen to the "Tornados" while you read about "TELSTAR":

Telstar was the first active communications satellite and the first satellite designed to transmit telephone and high-speed data communications. Launched by NASA aboard a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral on July 10, 1962, Telstar was the first privately sponsored space launch.

Belonging to AT&T, the original Telstar was part of a multi-national agreement between AT&T, Bell Telephone Laboratories, NASA, the British General Post Office, and the French National PTT (Post, Telegraph & Telecom Office) to develop satellite communication.

The satellite was built by a team at Bell Telephone Laboratories, including John Robinson Pierce who created the project, Rudy Kompfner who invented the traveling wave tube transponder used in the satellite and James M. Early who designed the transistors and solar panels for it.

It was roughly spherical, was 34.5 inches long, and weighed 170 pounds. Its dimensions were limited by what would fit in one of NASA's Delta rockets. Telstar was spin-stabilized, so its outer surface was covered by solar cells in order to always receive some power. Telstar Wikipedia Link.

If you would like to see a 16 page article on "TELSTAR" and satellite technology from the May 1962 issue of National Geographic Magazine, just click on the cover. This is an 8.26mb PDF file.

Photograph from the 1964 Disneyland Souvenir Guide, showing a replica of the TELSTAR satellite orbiting above the Bell System (AT&T) Circarama Theatre.

The Tornados 1962 Decca Records EP.


Major Pepperidge said...

I was going to point out the "America the Beautiful" tie-in, but you beat me to it!

Vintage Disneyland Tickets said...

Great post, Super NG article, THANKS!!! I love this stuff. I am going to the Kennedy Space Center next week!