Thursday, April 11, 2013

Into Space in Andover

The Bubble, it housed the horn antenna - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via
  The western Maine, Oxford County Town of Andover had a population of 762 in 1962, it's grown a bit more, in 2010 there were 811 souls in town.
  Before the launch of Telstar, the Bell Labs satellite that would bring all of us in to a more modern age there needed to be a receiver(s) on Earth.  Andover, Maine was selected because of where it was, in a valley surrounded by mountains to keep down microwave interference.
  A 340 ton horn antenna (illustration below) on tracks that turned it around or back or front was constructed, the antenna was housed in an inflatable "bubble".  The building that housed the other components was located nearby.
  Because of Telstar we here in the USA could make phone calls to Europe or Asia, and transmit television too.  It was because of Telstar that you were able to watch the Tokyo Olympics "live" in 1964.  The local people in Andover and neighboring towns were excited by the sudden "fame"; when the new area high school was constructed in Bethel it was named Telstar High School.
  The station is now obsolete even with the Bubble replaced by three large dishes, and the property has been sold to a hoped for industrial use.
The Horn Antenna (see the man on the framework?) - click to enlarge
the man is right over the word "man".
Photo: Maine Historical Society via

The Bubble and Technical Building - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via

an aerial view - click to enlarge
Photo: Maine Historical Society via

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