CAPE CANAVERAL -- The United States successfully rocketed the world's first international communications satellite, Telstar, into orbit today in an effort to open a new era of global radio and "live" television.
The 170-pound moonlet began a wide-swinging journey around earth within 10 minutes after its launching at 4:35 a.m., EDT aboard a three-stage Delta rocket.
Circling earth every two hours and 20 minutes as a "switchboard in the sky," Telstar was expected to bring a future in which radio and "Live" television programs will be relayed around the world by space stations.
The $1 million satellite, owned by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) and proposed by a scientist who writes science fiction stories, was launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at a fee of $2.7 million. It is considered one of the most significant advances in communications since the invention of the telephone 86 years ago.
At 7:35 a.m., EDT, the federal space agency confirmed that "the Telstar communications satellite is in orbit."
Information was not available then as to the exact orbit although Indications were it probably was close to that planned, a path ranging in altitude from 600 to 3,500 miles.
Efforts were to be made today to transmit photographs and news dispatches from Andover, Me., and Holmdel, N J.. by way of the satellite.
Within a week or so, trans-ocean "live" television will be attempted.
The dream of a Bell Telephone Co. scientist who writes science fiction, the 170-pound electronic marvel is considered one of the most Important advances in communications since the invention of the telephone 86 years ago.
Telstar is the forerunner of satellites which may bring the thrill of an Olympics event in Tokyo, the beauty of a Bolshoi ballet in Moscow or the pageantry of a king's coronation in Europe direct and "live" to American television screens, and open unlimited circuits for ocean-spanning business and personal telephone calls -- wlthin three or four years.
AT&T Pays Bill
American Telephone and Telegraph Co. (AT&T) paid for Telstar's construction, then forked out $2.7 million to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to launch it.
The space rocket tore into the inky, blackness of space and sent its delicate payload thundering toward an orbital speed of about 16,000 miles per hour.
Scientists said Telstar should circle earth once every two hours and 20 minutes as a sort of "switchboard in the sky" to give a spectacular test to theories proposed by Dr. John R. Pierce, a Bell Telephone laboratories scientist who writes science fiction stories in his spare time.
Posed For Tests
Television signals and high-frequency radio signals normally are limited to line-of-sight, like the beam of a flashlight. Pierce suggested that satellites could "catch" these signals, amplify them and relay them back to earth.
Telstar was the result. It was designed to serve the purpose of an "engineering impossiblity" -- a microwave relay tower 475 feet high and erected squarely in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Today, high-powered ground stations at Andover, Holmdel and Goonhilly Downs, England, were poised for a series of dramatic tests that could open the way to one of the earliest practical payoffs for the billions of dollars America is Investing In space research.
From Telstar, scientists said, could spring a series of 30 to 50 "operational" satellites, circling the globe at an altitude of about 6,000 miles and providing the first worldwide system of radio and television communications as early as 1864 or 1965.