In Pictures: Telstar at 50 - The little satellite that launched an industry

50 years ago NASA launched Telstar the world’s first communications satellite

  • It was a momentous occasion in the communications industry 50 years ago. NASA launched the world’s first communications satellite July 10, 1962 and two days later it relayed the world's first transatlantic television signal, from Andover Earth Station, Maine in the United States, to the Pleumeur-Bodou Telecom Center, Brittany, France. Telstar was built by Bell Laboratories for AT&T. Such systems of course seem commonplace today but its technology was hailed as a truly modern miracle that united the world. Take a look.

  • Telstar is carried into space on a Delta rocket on July 10, 1962, as seen in newsreel footage.

  • France issued these stamps in 1962 to inform the world that a facility owned by their post office had made the first satellite television broadcast.

  • Telstar’s owner, AT&T, paid NASA $3 million to launch the satellite from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on July 10, 1962. These two souvenir program covers above were postmarked on the launch date according to the Embassy of France.

  • The first telephone call transmitted by satellite was between Fred Kappel, the chairman of AT&T, which owned Telstar, and U.S. Vice President, Lyndon Johnson. The one-minute, 42-second call began with Kappel in Andover, Maine, saying, "Good evening, Mr. Vice President."

  • The satellite actively relays signal between Andover and Plemeur-Bodou.

  • The horn antenna of Pleumeur-bodou station, inside de Radome.

  • U.S. President Kennedy gives a news conference televised over the Telstar satellite.

  • Telstar, the world's first telecommunications satellite, seen in a newsreel from July 1962.

  • Engineers working on the Telstar satellite.

  • Watching the first images beamed via the Telstar satellite.

  • The U.S. flag and antenna dome at Andover, Maine, seen in one of the first television pictures ever sent via satellite.

  • A close-up of the solar panels on Telstar.

  • The Telstar ground station in Andover, Maine.

  • Radiation damaged Telstar's fragile transistors and it went out of service in December, was temporarily restarted in January but additional transistor failure meant Telstar's last emission was on Feb. 21, 1963. Telstar is still orbiting Earth about every 158 minutes, according to the Embassy of France.

Show Comments

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?