Relay 1 Communications Satellite


Display Status:

This object is on display in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Relay 1 Communications Satellite

Collection Item Summary:

Launched by NASA in 1962, Relay 1 was one of several satellites placed in orbit in the decade after Sputnik to test the possibilities of communications from space. Relay 1 received telephone and television signals from ground stations and then transmitted them to other locations on the Earth's surface. The satellite relayed signals between North America and Europe and between North and South America, and it also monitored the effects of radiation on its electronics. In conjunction with the Syncom 3 communications satellite, Relay 1 transmitted television coverage of the 1964 Olympics in Japan.

This prototype of Relay 1 is covered with solar cells. The antenna on top is for receiving and transmitting communications signals; those at its base are for telemetry, tracking, and control. In orbit, Relay used spin-stabilization to orient the antennas to communicate with Earth.

NASA transferred this artifact to the Museum in 1967.

Collection Item Long Description:

Inventory Number


Credit Line

Transferred from NASA


Country of Origin

United States of America


Aluminum, copper, plastic, glass


Overall: 4 ft. 4 in. tall x 2 ft. 6 in. wide (132.1 x 76.2cm) Weight: 170 lbs

Data Source

National Air and Space Museum

Restrictions & Rights

Do not reproduce without permission from the Smithsonian Institution, National Air and Space Museum