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Marking the 50th Anniversary of the Telstar Telecommunications Satellite -- PICTURES Marking the 50th Anniversary of the Telstar Telecommunications Satelli...

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Marking the 50th Anniversary of the Telstar Telecommunications Satellite -- PICTURES

photo of Kenneth Chamberlain
July 12, 2012

In an era in which the Earth is encircled by an ever-growning number of telecommunications and other satellites, it might be difficult to understand the hoopla that ensued when the first one was launched. 

That satellite, Telstar, relayed its first television signal 50 years ago on Thursday, two days after it was launched on July 10, 1962. Telstar was developed by Bell Telephone Laboratories for AT&T and launched by NASA, making it the first commercial space payload, according to a NASA press release.

The first broadcast included images of President Kennedy and French signer Yves Montand, as well as images of an American flag and Mount Rushmore, among others. 

Below are images of the satellite along with a Universal Newsreel report and a (long) 1962 promotional video from AT&T.

The satellite lasted only a few months before radiation damaged its electronics, but it started a revolution in global communications.

The Telstar satellite weighed 170 pounds and cost about $50 million, according to a 1962 Universal Newsreels report.(AP Photo/Bell Labs)

A Thor-Delta rocket blasts away from its launch pad early on July 10, lifting the Telstar satellite.(AP Photo)

The first live television picture transmitted through Telstar.(AP Photo)


One of the first images broadcast through Telstar, an American flag outside the Andover, Maine, antenna stations receiving Telstar signals.(

French project engineers capture the moment of the first Telstar broadcast.(

Actress Gina Lollobrigida watches President Kennedy on a television set in her Rome villa on July 23, 1962, during live telecast from the U.S. to Europe via the Telstar satellite.(AP Photo/Jim Pringle)


Vice President Lyndon Johnson talking on the first phone call using Telstar.(

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