Computers and memory, radios, cameras, light sensors, temperature sensors, accelerometers & gyros1, power supplies, power conditioners and converters and battery interfaces can all be put together with Commercial Off-The-Shelf or COTS components.

That doesn't necessarily meant they will work well together or individually in space.

Question: What was the first satellite with mostly COTS electronics? How well did it work?

1MEMS accelerometers & gyros can be bought now but may not have been available when a potential answering-spacecraft was launched, so I've specified "most COTS electronics" above.


I think the satellite is the Telstar 1 satellite

It was launched in July 1962

Telstar 1 was a communications satellite launched by NASA. It was the satellite that allowed the first live broadcast of television images between the United States and Europe.

It remained active for only 7 months, much shorter service life than today's artificial satellites. Although it no longer works, it is still in Earth orbit.

A 53-meter terrestrial antenna manufactured by AT&T Corporation, located in Andover, Maine, was used for the transmissions between the U.S. and Europe. Built-in 1961, and used by Telstar 1, it was later used by Relay 1. Telstar 1 operated normally from launch until November 1962 when the radiation from the Starfish Prime detonation affected the command channel, which began to behave erratically. The satellite was continuously switched on to work around this problem. On November 23, 1962, the command channel stopped responding. On December 20, the satellite was successfully reactivated, and intermittent data were obtained until February 21, 1963, when the transmitter failed. The energy used by it was produced by 3,600 solar cells. The satellite relied on an active repeater and magnified signal strength by a factor of a hundred using a traveling wave tube amplifier (TWTA). Thirteen days after the launch, the first live broadcast of a television show between the United States and Europe took place

I found more about COTS and its history etc. on this website


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