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6 April 1965

Early Bird

Early Bird launched on Delta rocket

Left: Launch of Delta rocket carrying Early Bird payload; top centre: Early Bird satellite; top right: Early Bird undergoing pre-launch tests;
bottom centre: Comsat control centre for Early Bird; bottom right: guests at the launch include Vice-President Hubert Humphrey and Senator Walter Mondale (second right and right of front row)
[Source: Comsat/Intelsat]

Intelsat 1 F-1, known popularly as Early Bird, was the first communications satellite developed and launched for commercial use. It was launched on a Delta D rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida and positioned in geostationary orbit over the Atlantic. It was 59cm long and 72cm in diameter, weighing 39kg, and had a capacity of 240 telephone links or one television channel. Designed to last for 18 months, it was in use for 3 years, even being reactivated briefly to celebrate Intelsat's 20th anniversary in 1984.


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Page updated 28 July 2008
David Fisher