Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Research

Spotlight
Telstar 50th Anniversary Symposium

One of the Museum's scholarly activities in 2012 was a symposium in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of Telstar, the satellite that made the world's first transmission of live television possible. Presented in cooperation with the Embassy of France, the symposium featured a satellite television connection to the Pleumeur-Bodou Telecommunications Museum in France. Pleumeur-Bodou is where the first transmission was received in 1962.

Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough began the event with remarks, followed by French Ambassador Francois Delattre and the U.S. Consul in France, Robert Tate. Following that, historians and experts from industry and government discussed Telstar's historical significance, its impact on commercial space endeavors, and the birth of global communications. Concluding remarks were delivered by State Department Assistant Secretary Kerri-Ann Jones.

Telstar 1 launched on July 10, 1962, from Cape Canaveral and was the first privately sponsored space-faring mission. It handled a variety of transmissions, including telephone, fax, data, still pictures, and television signals from several locations across the United States and Europe.

Support for the program was provided by Intelsat and France Telecom-Orange.

Photo: An engineering back-up of the Telstar satellite is in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum.