Experimental intercontinental television transmission via an active satellite repeater is planned within a year by AT&T. This satellite, to be orbited at a 2200-mile altitude, will mark the first commercial venture into space. AT&T is designing the payload, but is asking for assistance from NASA with a launch vehicle and suitable facilities. This will mark a step beyond the passive reflector of Project Echo and the delayed repeater of Project Courier.
The link will allow one-way tv transmission between the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe for about 35 minutes, three or four times a day—when the satellite is in line-of-sight range of both transmitting and receiving stations. The satellite will be about four feet in diameter and weigh about 175 lb. Transmitter power is limited: it will be difficult to transmit much more than a kilowatt from a ground station operating in the 6 kmc region, and the output of the satellite's traveling wave tube will be held to about 2 w. (Electronic Design, Nov. 9, 1960, p. 4)
This is the Telstar I, which was launched in 1962. The NASA Web site (www.roland.lerc.nasa.gov/~dglover/sat/satcom2. html#Telstar) is rich in information on the early space programs. Telstar I and Telstar II (launched in 1963) were prototypes for a set of 50 satellites planned by AT&T. When the government gave control of satellite communications to Comsat, AT&T's project was halted.