SPC02 - The Telstar - The First Active Communication Satellite


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The Telstar satellite was a groundbreaking telecommunications satellite created by AT&T's Bell Telephone Laboratories and launched on July 10, 1962. It was a result of an international effort involving AT&T, Bell Labs, NASA, the British General Post Office, and the French National PTT (Post, Telegraph & Telephone service). Telstar was the first satellite to relay TV, phone calls, and high-speed data, making a major impact on the use of satellites for communication.

Telstar’s design included important solar cells. It had over 3,500 solar cells, each about 1 inch by 1/2 inch, placed on its curved surface. A solar cell made by Bell Labs for the Telstar program is part of the artwork.

The transistors in the Telstar satellite were Western Electric 2N559 transistors. This type of transistor, a diffused-junction germanium PNP device, was one of the first military-grade computer transistors made. Introduced in 1957, it was built for toughness, reliability, and small size, with the ability to handle high-speed switching at frequencies over 400 MHz. A Western Electric 2N559 transistor is also included in the artwork.