Intelsat 1, the first commercial comms satellite

Also known as Early Bird, this was the first commercial communications satellite in geosynchronous orbit, having been launched on 6 April 1965.

During the early age of space technology, Intelsat recounts, two identical satellites were often constructed in the event of launch failure. The donation is a fully constructed satellite that had been on display at Intelsat’s U.S. headquarters.

Through its four years of service, Intelsat 1 is credited with broadcasting the Apollo 11 moon landing to millions of TV viewers around the world, doubling the number of telephone lines between the continents, and providing other critical telecommunications and broadcasting services.

Intelsat says it was also the first satellite to provide direct and nearly instantaneous contact between Europe and North America.

“This historic satellite’s new home commemorates its role in some of the most profound moments in human space exploration and global connectivity,” said Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler. “Allowing people to witness the moon landing live inspired a generation of space explorers and enthusiasts. This reminder of Intelsat’s integral part in driving humanity forward only underscores how far Intelsat has come today and will continue to go in connecting our world.”

Image: Intelsat

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