USAF's experimental SCORE (Signal Communication Orbit Relay Experiment) was the first communication satellite ever.
The payload consisted of a redundant pair of battery-powered, vacuum tube-based UHF communication packages with a nominal design life of 21 days attached to the Atlas sustainer stage.
Each package consisted of a command receiver, its own continuous-loop tape recorder capable of providing four minutes of recording or playback time for one voice or up to seven teletype channels. The payload was installed in each of the two side pods of the Atlas-B stage used to carry missile’s avionics and control systems. Additionally a pair of Minitrack telemetry beacons was also carried.
SCORE demonstrated both 'Store and Forward' and direct communications with ground stations (therefore earning the nickname 'Talking Atlas'). The batteries failed after 13 days in orbit.
SCORE's launch was conducted in secret, with only part of the launch team knowing, that this Atlas-B flight was not an ICBM missile test but carrying a communications payload and was heading to orbit.
|Type / Application:||Experimental communication|
|Operator:||US Air Force (USAF)|
|Contractors:||U.S. Army Signal Research and Development Laboratory (SRDL)|
|Equipment:||2 UHF transmitters, 2 tape recorders, 2 Minitrack beacons|
|Configuration:||Atlas body with communication equipment|
|Propulsion:||none (after reaching orbit)|
|Lifetime:||21 days (design); 13 days (reached)|
|Mass:||3970 kg (total), 68 kg (payload only)|
|Orbit:||185 km × 1484 km, 32.3°|
|SCORE||1958 ζ||18.12.1958||CC LC-11||Atlas-B (mod.)|