Telstar

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    Telstar

    Spherical spacecraft, white exterior covered with solar cells

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    There are restrictions for re-using this media. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

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    Telstar

    Spherical spacecraft, white exterior covered with solar cells

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    There are restrictions for re-using this media. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

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    Telstar

    Spherical spacecraft, white exterior covered with solar cells

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    Usage Conditions Apply

    There are restrictions for re-using this media. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

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    Telstar

    Spherical spacecraft, white exterior covered with solar cells

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    Usage Conditions Apply

    There are restrictions for re-using this media. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

    IIIF provides researchers rich metadata and image viewing options for comparison of works across cultural heritage collections. More - https://iiif.si.edu

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    Telstar

    Spherical spacecraft, white exterior covered with solar cells

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    Launch of Telstar 1

    July 10, 1962. Launch of Telstar 1, world's first active communications satellite, on a Thor/Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

     Source: NASA/KSC

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    Telstar 1

    Telstar 1 was the world's first active communications satellite.

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    Telstar

    Backup spacecraft for Telstar, the world's first active communications satellite.  Telstar 1 began an era of live international television. After its launch on July 10, 1962, it relayed television images between the United States and France and England. 

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    Telstar Satellite

    An engineering back-up of the Telstar satellite, in the collections of the National Air and Space Museum.

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Launched on July 10, 1962, Telstar 1, developed by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T), was the world's first active communications satellite. AT&T used the satellite to test basic features of communications via space.

Soon after launch, Telstar enabled the first transatlantic television transmission, linking the United States and France. In November 1962, Telstar's electronics became compromised through exposure to Van Allen Belt radiation, resulting in the satellite's deactivation in February 1963.

Telstar was one of the most significant communications satellites of the early space age. It raised an important policy question: Should communications satellites be operated and controlled by private corporations or under government auspices? The United States chose government direction and created two new institutions, COMSAT and INTELSAT, to develop satellite communcations, an arrangement that lasted for more than two decades.

This Telstar is a backup spacecraft to Telstar 1 and 2 (launched respectively in 1962 and 1963), transferred from the National Museum of American History to the Museum in 2006.