First U.S. Domestic Synchronous Satellite System
||190 cm (75 in)
||345 cm (135 in)
||306 kg in orbit (674 lb)
The successful launch April 13, 1974 of Western Union's WESTAR I -- America's first domestic communications satellite -- signaled the start of a new era of communications in the United States. WESTAR I, built by Hughes Aircraft Company, today known as Boeing Satellite Development Center, is similar to the Anik satellites Hughes designed and built for Canada's domestic system.
Three WESTAR satellites were purchased by Western Union, one of the first applicants in the U.S. to win approval from the Federal Communications Commission to operate a domestic satellite system. The second satellite in the system, WESTAR II, was launched from Cape Canaveral October 10, 1974. The third satellite also was launched from Cape Canaveral August 9, 1979.
Operating in synchronous orbit, 22,300 miles above the equator, the satellites relay voice, video, and data communications to the continental United States as well as Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Western Union's primary earth station is in Glenwood, New Jersey, near New York City. Additional earth stations in the WESTAR system are located near Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
Each 12 transponder satellite has a capacity of 7000 two-way voice circuits or 12 simultaneous color TV channels. Design lifetime in orbit for each satellite is 7 years.
WESTAR Earth Sensors
WESTAR II Launch October 10, 1974