[amsat-bb] National Air and Space Museum To Recognize Telstar on Thursday, July 12th

Eric Rosenberg ericrosenberg.dc at gmail.com
Mon Jul 9 06:58:58 PDT 2012

Telstar, the satellite that made the world’s first transmissions of live
television possible in 1962, will be the subject of a program at the
Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum July 12. The “Telstar 50th
Anniversary” symposium, which will begin at 1:30 p.m., will be presented in
cooperation with the Embassy of France. It will begin with a satellite
television connection to the Pleumeur-Bodou Telecommunications Museum in
France commemorating the first global transmission of a television signal
50 years ago.

“It was that rarest of all television moments, the kind that compels
viewers to lean forward and stare in a primal wonder and amazement at their
screens” was how newscaster Walter Cronkite described a Telstar-enabled
public broadcast that occurred about two weeks after the satellite’s launch
and first test transmission July 10. A multinational event, the July 23
broadcast was carried by American networks CBS, NBC and ABC as well as CBC
in Canada and Eurovision in Europe. The first pictures were of the Statue
of Liberty and the Eiffel Tower. Although the program was to have begun
with remarks by President John F. Kennedy, the talk was delayed and a
baseball game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Chicago Cubs was
televised in its place.

The symposium will be presented in two parts. Secretary of the Smithsonian
Wayne Clough will begin the satellite connection between the two museums.
French Ambassador François Delattre and the U.S. General Consul in France,
Robert Tate, will also speak.

 “Live broadcast of events happening throughout the world are taken for
granted today, but 50 years ago transmissions enabled by Telstar captured
the attention and imaginations of people everywhere,” Clough said. “The
50th anniversary reminds us how far we have come, and how much potential
there is the new era of digital communications.”

Following the satellite connection, historians and experts from industry
and government will discuss Telstar’s historical
significance, its impact on commercial space endeavors and the birth of
global communications. Footage from the original 1962 broadcast between
France and the United States on July 12 will be shown at the symposium.
Concluding remarks will be delivered by State Department Assistant
Secretary Kerri-Ann Jones.

Support for the program is provided by Intelsat and France Telecom-Orange.
The symposium will be held in the museum’s Moving Beyond Earth gallery.
Reservations are not required.

Telstar 1 launched on July 10, 1962, from Cape Canaveral and was the first
privately sponsored space-faring mission. It handled a variety of
transmissions, including telephone, fax, data, still pictures and
television signals from several locations across the United States and
Europe. The original Telstar was part of an agreement between AT&T, Bell
Telephone Laboratories, NASA, the British General Post Office and the
French National Post Telegraph and Telecom Office. The satellite was built
at Bell Telephone Laboratories. A small model of Telstar 1 will be on
display during the symposium.

More information on the program may be found on the museum’s website and

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