Telstar solar cell

Telstar solar cell

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Description (Brief)
Batteries provide electric power reliably but have limited life, making them impractical for long missions in space. So when engineers at Bell Labs designed the Telstar communications satellites, they used 3600 solar cells to generate the 14 watts needed to operate the satellite. Twelve silicon cells were mounted in a platinum frame set on a ceramic base and covered with a sapphire plate to make a strip like this one.
Telstar solar cell; "11-24" penciled on back. #3 of 4 units, each weights 0.8 oz and is made with two assemblies: the cover (sapphire plate brazed into a platinum frame) and the solar cell (silicon cells shingled to provide a series connection and mounted on a ceramic plate). The two units are joined by soldering the cover assembly to the cell assembly along the edges of the ceramic plate. Cells are designed to be sensitive to the blue-green region of the spectrum. Reference: Bell System Technical Journal 4, part 3 (July 1963), 1765-1816.
Currently not on view
Object Name
solar cell
Photovoltaic module
Date made
date made
ca 1962
Bell Laboratories
overall: 4 3/32 in x 7/8 in x 1/4 in; 10.38225 cm x 2.2225 cm x.635 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
from American Telephone & Telegraph
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Energy & Power
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I'm proud to say that I was one of the many engineers at Bell Labs, Murray Hill, N.J. that worked on the Telstar project back in 1960 - 1962 including the solar cells for the satellite and the solar cell experiments that were on board. I can still remember the launch day of July 10, 1962 --a day to remember. I worked at BTL for 35 years after that wonderful day !!!

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