50 Years of Satellite Communications

It’s not often that I publish two blog posts in quick succession, but this is an exception. Only a couple of weeks ago on July 10th 2012 I posted “The Birth of Satellite Communications” on the anniversary of the launch of Telstar, the world’s first commercial communications satellite.
That blog post was subsequently published in the July 2012 MilsatMagazine article here.

Since then I have come across some other references and resources that I believe are really worth capturing and sharing. First, an excellent 12 minute video produced by the European Space Agency and entitled “50 Years via Satellite”. Below the ESA video are links to some things that The Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum have contributed. All these are worth watching.

ESA-Euronews video: 50 Years via Satellite


The Smithsonian Institute National Air and Space Museum Links:
The Smithsonian Institute hosted a commemorative event here.
The chair of their History Division, Paul Ceruzzi, produced a very good blog post here.

Many thanks to Isabel Lara (@isalara) at The Smithsonian for providing these two links.

Olympic Games 2012 – Powered by Satellites

Without satellites, the Olympics wouldn’t be what they are …

London 2012 Olympic Games Stadium

London 2012 Olympic Games Stadium

Only a lucky few million people will actually attend the London 2012 Olympic Games, whereas billions of people all over the world will feel part of the event as a result of the immediacy of live television.

The following 4 minute video produced by the European Space Agency, a leading light in the development of satellite communications, gives an overview of how this is achieved:


In the coming days the Olympic Games will attract a worldwide audience and from wherever we are on the globe we’ll all be able to follow the events in London. This is a fantastic showcase for space technologies which are often unknown and taken for granted.

The evolution of space activity, and in particular, satellite telecommunications, has transformed the planet into a big stadium where everybody has a front seat. This video recalls the extraordinary progresses made in the relay of sports and the new tools now available for professionals and spectators around the world.
More background information can be found on: http://www.esa.int/esaTE/index.html

50 Years Ago Today – The Birth of Satellite Communications

First Satellite TV in the UK received by Goonhilly
The Telstar Satellite

The Telstar Satellite

10th July 1962 marked the birth of satellite communications. Exactly 50 years ago today the Telstar satellite commenced its journey into space from Cape Canaveral and became the first ever active commercial communications satellite. It carried the first live trans-Atlantic TV broadcasts.

These days, satellite launches are commonplace and polar orbits, MEO orbits, Molniya orbits, Tundra orbits and the geostationary orbit are filled with communications satellites operating at frequency bands from UHF through L-Band, S-Band, C-Band, X-Band, Ku-Band, Ka-Band and above. As at 1st January 2012 there were 419 satellites operating in the geostationary orbit alone.

I’m not writing this as a “third party commentator”, but as someone who has been intimately involved with and has contributed to the development of satellite communications [Read more…]