It is the 40th anniversary of the first satellite TV transmission next week and BT Broadcast Services' Goonhilly Earth Station is taking part in an event to mark the occasion, w rites Barbara Marshall.
Goonhilly - now the world's largest operational satellite station - was the first to receive live TV signals by satellite when, on 11 July 1962, signals were exchanged via Telstar between the US, the UK and France. The tests paved the way for commercial satellite communications around the world.
Next Thursday (11 July), the same three stations - Goonhilly in Cornwall, Andover in the US and Pleumeur Bodou in France - will commemorate the event with a link-up. Guests at the ceremony to be held at Goonhilly include BT chief executive Ben Verwaayen, as well as people who were involved in the Telstar experiment, such as Dr John Bray. Bray was instrumental in the design and development of the satellite receiving dish Goonhilly Antenna One.
Bray said: 'They were tremendously exciting times. There was a real spirit of camaraderie among those involved. We really did feel like pioneers. It was a privilege to be involved in such an important event.'
Although the satellite - Telstar - ceased operating in 1963, Antenna One - the giant 1,118 tonne dish - is still operational and will carry the transmissions at next week's event. It has recently been recommended by English Heritage for Grade II listed building status.
Sometimes known as Arthur, the antenna was unique 40 years ago due to its 'dish' design, compared to the French and American 'horn'. But the unique design proved superior for satellite communications and is now used by satellite stations around the world.
The Telstar tests also included the world's first telephone call by satellite - from London to New York - and five days after the first TV transmission, the first colour TV pictures were sent from Goonhilly, several years before colour TV became commonplace in the UK or US.
Next week's link-ups will be made via Intelsat 903 which is positioned above the middle of the Atlantic.