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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.

Display Status This object is not on display at the National Air and Space Museum. It is either on loan or in storage.
Object Details
Key Accomplisment(s) First Active Communications Satellite Brief Description Telstar, launched in 1962, was the first active communications satellite: it received microwave signals from ground stations and retransmitted them across vast distances back to Earth. It was the model for all subsequent communications satellites. Country of Origin United States of America Type SPACECRAFT-Unmanned-Communications Manufacturer AT&T Dimensions Overall (Satellite with red antenna cover): 86.4 × 111.8cm, 86.9kg (2 ft. 10 in. × 3 ft. 8 in., 191.5lb.)
Overall (Crate base): 111.8 × 111.8 × 55cm (3 ft. 8 in. × 3 ft. 8 in. × 1 ft. 9 5/8 in.)
3-D (Cylindrical base mounting - diameter of center cylinder): 23.7cm (9 5/16 in.)
3-D (Cylindrical base mounting - diameter of outer collar): 26.7cm (10 1/2 in.)
3-D (Cylindrical base mounting - L-shaped projection): 1.9cm (3/4 in.)
Materials HAZMAT: Cadmium Plating, Magnesium
Satellite: Aluminum alloy, ferrous alloy, glass, silicon, magnesium alloy, nylon, paint, copper alloy, gold plating, silver plating, laminated labels, nickel-cadmium battery, polyethylene, and zinc chromate
Base: Rubber, wood, ferrous alloy, plastic, aluminum alloy, and cadmium plating
Alternate Name Telstar Inventory Number A20070113000 Credit Line Transferred from National Museum of American History Data Source National Air and Space Museum Restrictions & Rights Usage conditions apply
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