Launched in 1966, Applications Technology Satellite 1 (ATS 1) was the first in a series of six satellites sponsored by NASA to test out new technologies in space communications and, to a lesser extent, in meteorology and understanding the space environment. Positioned in geostationary orbits, these satellites primarily were intended to provide research and development support to the new industry of space communications.
Although designed to operate for only three years, ATS 1 continued working until 1985--an extraordinary 19 years. During much of its operational life, ATS 1 was used for communications to remote areas and facilitated the delivery of emergency medical services and educational programs in Alaska and the Pacific.
NASA transferred this artifact, a prototype built by Hughes Aircraft, to the Museum in 1976.