History of Technology: 50 years of Relay 1 satellite
Today satellite communications seem something that falls within the ordinary and not surprising to see a live broadcast of an event that is taking place at the other end of the world. However, in the 60s, during the race space, Satellite communications were extremely innovative and experimental communication channel that began to offer the ability to deliver audio and video signals between areas live far apart geographically. On 10 July, the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first commercial communications satellite in history, the Tesltar 1 , a project that would open the door to broadcasting of satellite television signals and led to other projects such as Relay Program NASA would launch into space, but this day 50 years ago, the Satellite Relay 1 .
The December 13, 1962, a Delta rocket launched from Cape Canaveral facilities in Florida put the satellite in orbit Relay 1, a NASA pilot project that took place in parallel to the Telstar program and that, as it had target experiments with satellite communications in addition to capturing data telemetry systems that housed the satellite.
The project, this time, was led entirely by NASA (the Telstar was a public-private partnership aimed at commercial communications) and the development of the satellite was the responsibility of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA). The Relay 1 was a satellite weighing 78 kilograms around and was able to be stabilized by turning (rotating at a speed of 167 revolutions per minute) and in addition to communications equipment, carried a transmitter for monitoring ground, one for and telemetry equipment to photograph the terrestrial radiation belts.
However, the main objective of this mission were satellite communications and, in this sense, the satellite was able to act in active repeater received signals, ie the signal received, processed and returned to the relay them to Earth (regenerating the signal). If one was aimed Tesltar linking U.S. with Europe, the Relay 1 satellite became the Pacific and was able to unite the United States with Japan (though also used for broadcasts to Europe).
The orbital period of Relay 1 was 185.09 minutes and, during orbit 2677 (which took place on November 22, 1963), was scheduled to issue a greeting from President Kennedy to the Japanese people but just that day was the assassination of President and instead of issuing the speech had been recorded, the first satellite transmission between the United States and Japan was to communicate the news of the death of JFK.
In the next orbit in 2678, Japan was broadcast a program broadcast live in America that revolved around the life of President Kennedy and became the first live broadcast from the United States and Japan, an activity that would NBC repeated when the satellite used to broadcast days later the funeral procession and funeral of President. President Kennedy’s death, unfortunately, serve to demonstrate the feasibility of satellite communications for broadcasting live events and programs since, during the 3 days following the murder, the Relay 1 broadcast 11 live connections, 8 for 3 for Europe and Japan.
In the summer of 1964, Tokyo City was in charge of hosting the Olympics and deployed communications satellites would take an important part in the worldwide broadcast of this event. At that time, NASA had also deployed satellites Syncom program and by Syncom 3 was established the link between Japan and the United States and, thanks to Relay 1, the link was established between the U.S. and Europe, giving global coverage the Olympics and breaking new ground by combining two satellite technology to broadcast a signal.
While the Relay 1 can be considered a success, the satellite was able to give the odd headache to NASA. Shortly after launch, the satellite did not respond well to commands sent from the ground in addition to suffering a leak in one of the high power regulators took it out of service for the first two weeks. After this time, the satellite returned to work and did not need repairs but in early 1965, after just over two years of service, causing problems again cuts in transfers until February 10 of that year and broke down the satellite thus ending its useful life.
The Relay 1 was not the only satellite deployed under this program and the January 21, 1964, NASA launched the Relay 2, a satellite that was in service until 1967, also for various faults, was no longer operating.