Sep 20, 2019

Satellite History

Satellites go way back, and were mostly used for specific purposes. The new LEO satellite constellations require thousands of satellites talking to each other and allowing internet anywhere, even the remotest parts of the planet.

1957—The Soviet Union launches Sputnik 1 and kicks off the space race.

1958—The US launches its first satellite, Explorer 1.

1958—The world’s first satellite designed for telecommunications, successfully transmits its first message.

1962—The Communications Satellite Act of 1962 gives the FCC regulatory power over communications satellites.

1962—Bell Labs launches Telstar 1, which successfully executes the first satellite television transmission.

1967—The Soviet Union creates, Orbita, the first television-satellite national network.

1972—Canada launches the first North American geostationary television satellite, Anik 1.

1975—RCA builds Satcom 1 for ABC, NBC, CBS, and later HBO® to begin broadcasting via satellite.

1976—Radio engineer Taylor Howard builds a homemade satellite dish and receiver that picks up both North American and Soviet satellite television signals. It showed in-home satellite television service could work.

1979—The Satellite Home Viewer Act lets US homeowners operate their own home satellite system.

1991—A group of cable TV providers, including Time Warner Cable, Cox, Comcast, and more, create the first direct broadcast satellite television service in the US, PRIMESTAR.

1993—Hughes Aircraft Co. applies for an FCC license to launch Spaceway, the first satellite designed to use the Ka-band frequencies making satellite a reasonable means for transmitting internet signals.

1996—Hughes Electronics buys PanAmSat, starts Hughes Network Systems, and begins offering consumer satellite services.

2003—News Corp buys DIRECTV, Hughes Network Systems, and others to form the DIRECTV Group.

2017—Viasat launches Viasat 2, which delivers the fastest residential satellite internet in the US to date.

Between 5G communications, ATSC3 over the air TV, and low earth satellites, pulling multiple millions of miles of physical cables around the country and the world may become a thing of the past, but it will not happen this year or next.

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