This month it was 50 years ago that NASA launched AT&T’s Telstar, the world’s first active communications satellite. Launched on July 10, 1962, this was a very successful experiment. Telstar transmitted the first satellite television broadcasts, which were the first live television signals sent across the Atlantic.
Viewers in France and England saw President Kennedy conduct a press conference, and audiences in the United States watched French singer Yves Montand and the changing of the guard at England’s Buckingham Palace.
By the end of June 1962, viewers in 16 countries could watch US TV programmes. Telstar was not in geostationary orbit, so connection between the two continents was only possible during a certain period per day. The idea at the time was to create a belt of Telstars circling the globe, allowing for continuous contact over the Atlantic Ocean.
Within six months of launch, the satellite worked no more and a restart only kept it functional until February 1963.
Frams von Telstar-Start: NASA-Video