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Telstar 1



Telstar 1, primarily a communications satellite, carried an experiment designed to measure the energetic proton and electron distribution in the Van Allen belts. The spacecraft spin rate varied according to r=(178.2)exp(-t/333) rpm, where t was in days from launch. The spin axis original orientation was right ascension 81.96 deg and declination -65.57 deg. It varied slowly over the lifetime of the spacecraft. For example, on 09 November 1962, the right ascension was 94.05 deg, and the declination was -51.91 deg. Scientific information was transmitted by the spacecraft beacon, which was one of two onboard transmitters, via a PCM/FM/AM encoder. The telemetry sequence required about 1 min. The spacecraft operated normally from launch until November 1962, when the command channel began to behave erratically. The satellite was turned on continuously to circumvent this problem. On 23 November 1962, the command channel ceased to respond. On 20 December, the satellite was successfully reactivated, and intermittent data were obtained until 21 February 1963, when the transmitter failed.

Alternate Names

  • 1962 Alpha Epsilon 1
  • 00340
  • A 40
  • Telstar1

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1962-07-10
Launch Vehicle: Delta
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 171 kg

Funding Agency

  • AT&T Bell Telephone Laboratories (United States)


  • Communications
  • Space Physics

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail
Mr. C. P. Smith, Jr.Project ManagerNASA Goddard Space Flight Center
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