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Echo 1A, the first communication satellite, was launched in 1960.

Project Echo: "The Big Bounce" 1960 Bell Laboratories Mylar Balloon Satellite

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Following the failure of the Delta rocket carrying Echo 1 on May 13, 1960, Echo 1A (commonly referred to as just Echo 1) was put successfully into a 944 to 1,048 mi orbit by another Thor-Delta and a microwave transmission from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California was received at Bell Laboratories in Homdel, New Jersey on August 12, 1960. 
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Launch failure of the Delta rocket carrying Echo 1 on May 13, 1960
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Project Echo was the first passive communications satellite experiment. 
Echo 1A (commonly referred to as just Echo 1) was put successfully into a 944 to 1,048 mi orbit by a Thor-Delta on August 12, 1960.

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50 years ago, NASA launched its first communications satellite, Echo 1. Made from mylar polyester film and measuring about 100 feet across, the balloon-shaped spacecraft was designed as a passive communications reflector for transcontinental and intercontinental telephone, radio, and television signals. During orbit, a special recorded message from President Dwight Eisenhower was bounced off Echo 1 and picked up by radio operators across the nation.



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The peak of the year's best meteor shower, the Perseids, on 12 August coincides with the 50th anniversary of the launch of Nasa's Echo 1, the pioneering communications satellite that was a conspicuous addition to our night sky during the 1960s. Consisting of a Mylar balloon 30.5 metres in diameter, Echo 1 orbited initially at a height near 1,600km and was used like a giant mirror to reflect radio signals between two points on the Earth's surface. As such it was a passive communications satellite; later active ones, such as Telstar that followed two years later, have receivers and transmitters to amplify and relay or broadcast the signals.
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Echo I bounces first voices, pictures beyond Earth's curve
NASA launched Echo I, the world's first passive communications satellite, from Cape Canaveral on Aug. 12, 1960.

"The principal use of the Echo satellite, is in radio communication experiments, in which reflection from the 100 foot sphere is used to relay signals beyond the curve of the earth" - Sky and Telescope.

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The Echo satellites were NASA's first passive communications satellite experiment. Each spacecraft was designed as a metallised balloon satellite acting as a passive reflector of microwave signals. Communication signals were bounced off of it from one point on Earth to another.

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