Westar 1
Westar 1 was America's first domestic and commercially launched geostationary communications satellite
Communications satellite
A communications satellite is an artificial satellite stationed in space for the purpose of telecommunications...

, launched by Western Union
Western Union
The Western Union Company is a financial services and communications company based in the United States. Its North American headquarters is in Englewood, Colorado. Up until 2006, Western Union was the best-known U.S...

 and NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 on April 13, 1974. It was built by Hughes
Hughes Aircraft
Hughes Aircraft Company was a major American aerospace and defense contractor founded in 1932 by Howard Hughes in Culver City, California as a division of Hughes Tool Company...

 for Western Union, using the HS-333 platform of spin-stabilized
Spin-stabilisation is the method of stabilizing a satellite or launch vehicle by means of spin. For most satellite applications this approach has been superseded by three-axis stabilisation. It is also used in non-satellite applications such as rifle and artillery.Despinning can be achieved by...

 satellites. Westar 1 was the first of five Westar
Westar was the name for the fleet of geosynchronous communications satellites operating in the C band which were launched by Western Union from 1974 to 1984. There were seven Westar satellites in all, with five of them launched and operating under the Westar name.In many international recognized...

 satellites launched by Western Union from 1974 to 1982. Westars 1, 2, and 3 were 12-transponder
In telecommunication, the term transponder has the following meanings:...

 satellites while Westar 4 and Westar 5 were launched with 24 transponders. Western Union built a teleport
Earth station
A ground station, earth station, or earth terminal is a terrestrial terminal station designed for extraplanetary telecommunication with spacecraft, and/or reception of radio waves from an astronomical radio source. Ground stations are located either on the surface of the Earth, or within Earth's...

 in Cedar Hill, Texas, to uplink
A telecommunications link is generally one of several types of information transmission paths such as those provided by communication satellites to connect two points on earth.-Uplink:...

 content to the Westar satellites. A sixth satellite, Westar 6, was launched in 1984 but failed to reach orbit and was retrieved by the STS-51-A
STS-51-A was the second flight of Space Shuttle Discovery, and the 14th flight of NASA's Space Shuttle program. The mission launched from Kennedy Space Center on 8 November 1984, and landed just under eight days later on 16 November....

 Space Shuttle mission later that year. It was later refurbished and relaunched in orbit of Asia as AsiaSat 1 in 1990.

Westar 1 was used by Western Union
Western Union
The Western Union Company is a financial services and communications company based in the United States. Its North American headquarters is in Englewood, Colorado. Up until 2006, Western Union was the best-known U.S...

 for its own internal communications, such as for sending telegrams and mailgram
A mailgram is a type of telegraphic message which is transmitted electronically from the sender to a post office and then printed and delivered to the recipient via postal means.In the United States, the Western Union Company started mailgram service in 1970...

s to Western Union bureaus and U.S. post office
United States Postal Service
The United States Postal Service is an independent agency of the United States government responsible for providing postal service in the United States...

s respectively. It also was utilized by outside customers such as PBS, NPR
NPR, formerly National Public Radio, is a privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to a network of 900 public radio stations in the United States. NPR was created in 1970, following congressional passage of the Public Broadcasting...

 and the Mutual Broadcasting System
Mutual Broadcasting System
The Mutual Broadcasting System was an American radio network, in operation from 1934 to 1999. In the golden age of U.S. radio drama, MBS was best known as the original network home of The Lone Ranger and The Adventures of Superman and as the long-time radio residence of The Shadow...

, using it for sending television and radio programming via satellite to their local affiliate stations throughout the 1970s and '80s. Westar 1 was also used for a short time by HBO for its nationwide debut using satellite distribution to cable companies in 1975 (HBO later moved to RCA's competing satellite, Satcom 1, in February of 1976).

Westar 1 was retired from service in April 1983. The 15-meter dishes used to communicate with it have been decommissioned, but they can still be visited today by contacting Westar Satellite Services.
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