Satellite Communications Go Commercial

Forty-five years ago today — April 6, 1965 — the “Early Bird” satellite (also known as Intelsat-1) was launched by a Thor-Delta rocket out of Cape Canaveral.

(Thor-Delta rocket on the launch pad, with Echo-1 satellite, 1960. NASA image. Click to enlarge.)

Placed in geosynchronous orbit over the Atlantic Ocean, Early Bird was the first commercial communications satellite. It operated for three and a half years, and was the precursor to the dozens of spacecraft providing global communications today.

For more information, see this short history of communication satellites.

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