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back to article 50 years in SPAAAAACE: Telstar celebrates half-century since launch

On 10 July 1962, the privately-owned Telstar 1 was blasted into orbit on the back of NASA's Thor-Delta rocket, and despite only working for a year it proved that commercial satellite communications was possible. Telstar 1 was owned by the US telephony monopoly Ma Bell, and was built in the Bell Telephone Laboratories, though it …

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Wa

Wa Wa

Wa Waaa Wa-Wa Wa Wa

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Oh, I loved that record. Used to love playing it on the Stylophone.

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unashamedly plagarised from Youtube

Released on August 17th 1962 just five weeks after the launch of the AT & T communications satellite that gave the record its title,

Written and produced by Joe Meek.

Telstar won an Ivor Novello Award and is estimated to have sold at least five million copies worldwide

Great!!

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@Christoph

Great piece of music! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ryrEPzsx1gQ

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Tops

I'm so glad I wasn't the only one who got that tune in my head when I saw the article. I feel old enough already these days.

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I'm a...

Na, Na Na, Na Na Na Na Na Na man myself.

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TRT
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Looks a bit...

like a Mechanoid from very early Doctor Who.

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Round in circles

I remember watching the first TV pictures from Telstar. France received the pictures successfully on the first night; Britain saw only a noise signal. The second night was successful for both countries.

Apparently the Telstar signal was circular polarised. Despite the existence of thick manuals, both the US and France got it wrong. So it worked for them but not for us. Next day we bowed to the majority. Or so I was told by an ex-GPO engineer who had worked at the Goonhilly ground station.

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Re: Round in circles

You can see helical aerials in the clip, for receiving circularly-polarised signals.

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Prospero

Nice to hear about Telstar but can I suggest the next article is about Prospero? Back in the day we Brits could put make and launch a satellite all by ourselves...<br>

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Re: Prospero

Not a Prospero anniversary, yet!

It has warranted fleeting mention in the recent past, however: see here.

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Echo and SCORE

'Telstar wasn't the first satellite to bounce radio signals, that was "Courier 1B" from whose name one can identify as a military project'

Courier 1B is pre-dated by Echo 1 which was a passive communication satellite - nothing more than big reflective mylar balloon which reflected signals. Echo 2 followed in 1964 by which time it had been superceded by active satellites.

SCORE was the first satellite to broadcast from space, it could play pre-recorded messages and receive new ones for later broadcast.

Courier was the first active satellite which received, amplified and rebroadcast radio signals in real time.

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Re: Echo and SCORE

"SCORE was the first satellite to broadcast from space"

I should have thought the first satellite to broadcast from space was Sputnik 1. Not a very interesting broadcast (beep, beep, burble), though it sounds like it was the inspiration for Joe Meek's record.

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Windows

Re: Echo and SCORE

Help me, folks, but wasn't there a project in the 60's (?) to launch tens of thousands of small needles into space to act as a reflector? Might be an 'urban legend' but something at the back of my mind seems to recall it. Did it ever happen?

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Re: Echo and SCORE

This rang a bell with me too. After a quick bit of digging around I think it was project "West Ford" that we're remembering. Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_West_Ford

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Re: Echo and SCORE

There certainly was such a proposal. The radio astronomers were furious, and eventually the proposal was buried.

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Re: Echo and SCORE (Needles in space)

Crazy but true as an early communications relay idea

http://www.damninteresting.com/earths-artificial-ring-project-west-ford/

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Go

>but an equally good tribute is to spend the day watching satellite TV and remembering that Telstar made it possible.

Couldn't agree more, and I'm thankful every day to have access to Ch4 Ch.5, BBC 1-4 et-al, iTV- 1-4, Ch etc... etc... and, some of those also in HD. Given that I live in Germany I'd be outta luck with out the Astra 2A/B/D/N, and Eutelsat 28A (a.k.a Eurobird 1), Networks up there!

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Coat

+1 :-)

(Apparently a post with no letters included in the body is not a post)

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... and the first of those ... only worked for three weeks ...

and for that very interesting story, I can recommend "How the world was one" by the very same A.C.Clarke: http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-World-Was-One-Village/dp/0553074407

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Re: ... and the first of those ... only worked for three weeks ...

I can also strongly recommend Neal Stephenson's _Mother Earth, Mother Board_, a thoroughly engrossing (yes, really!) essay on cable laying (yes, really!): http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/4.12/ffglass.html

I believe a lot of the research for the essay found its way into _Cryptonomicon_, but the essay is an excellent read all on its own.

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If you're on holiday in Brittany (near Perros-Guirec) it's worth taking an afternoon to visit the old France Telecom site where the Telstar work was done. It's no longer operational as a working radio site, but parts are being converted into a museum: http://www.cite-telecoms.com/en/accueil-cite-des-Telecoms (somewhat Franglais, it's better if you can read the French pages). They have the original huge horn antenna inside the radome, where they do a sound & light show several times a day. Lots of other interesting exhibits as well.

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There's a Telstar High School

In Bethel, Maine.

I went on a field trip to the Telstar ground station in Andover, Maine as a kid. Last year, on a hike in the hills nearby, I saw clearly why the site had been chosen. The station itself (yes, it's still there) is in the center of a natural bowl, a valley, surrounded by woodland and a ring of hills.

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Unhappy

It's a worry.

It's a worry when one can remember this. Even worse, when one knows how that Ampex quadraplex 2" videotape recorder works.

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Please..... NO.

Anything but that damned music.

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Pint

We were a couple months behind launching, but ours lasted until we decided to switch it off 10 years later ;-)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Space_Agency#History.2C_mission_and_mandate

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alouette_1

Cheers to everyone in every country for all the amazing work done in those heady days!

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Clarke's Stations: Not Manned

Neither of Clarke's original papers refers to the radio relay stations being manned. It's possible you're misled by the term "Space Station", which we now use to refer to a manned satellite. At the time, the reference was to a radio station in space: space station.

While he didn't originally develop the idea of a space based communication satellite (he considered it such an obvious idea that someone else must have thought of it first, though this was true it wasn't as obvious as he considered it), his work on elaborating the idea did a lot to bring the idea to people to whom the idea of a space based radio relay wasn't obvious.

George O. Smith is documented as coming up with the idea for a radio relay in space before Clarke (being placed in a Trojan point with Venus to provide regular communications between Earth and Venus explorers in a science fiction story--Smith was also a radio engineer as well as an author). Hermann Oberth missed using radio, but suggested the idea of using an orbital mirror for signalling in 1923.

Clarke's work is how the idea of a communications satellite got out into the wild, so he deserves plenty of credit for both the basic communication satellite as well as the geostationary ones. The earlier people didn't get their voices heard.

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Re: Clarke's Stations: Not Manned

The manned communications satellites refers to his short stories, for example "Who's There?" from 1958.

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Re: Clarke's Stations: Not Manned

I liked George O Smith's "Venus Equilateral" series, and reread it earlier this year. It is a great example of a SF writer extrapolating from the best knowledge of the time. It is also an example of how unforseen and perhaps unforseeable discoveries and advances invalidate the basic assumptions that the story is built on.

I must see if there are any interviews with Smith, who died in 1981, comparing VE with how space communication actually played out.

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Happy

My father worked at one of the repeater stations in Cornwall during the first Telstar transmissions, and I still have a load of newspaper cuttings he collected at the time, including pictures of him in front of a big control panel.

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