Enjoy Watching the Royal Wedding? Thank the Space Program for Making that Possible

(Image Credit: Getty Images)

On Saturday, May 19th, there was a highly buzzed about event that the world tuned in to watch together, whether it was for enjoyment or just curioustity. In case you lived under a rock, Prince Harry married American actress Meghan Markle at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

  • In just the United States alone, 29.2 million people watched on one of the 15 channels airing the event.  In the U.K., there were 18 million people watching.

  • On Twitter, there were 3.4 million people tweeting about the couple. How many tweets, you may ask…27,000 tweets each minute during the wedding! (Do birds even “tweet” that much!?)

And that was made possible by the satellite INTELSAT

We can’t even begin to imagine how many groups got together for a Super Bowl-like party in their living rooms. How much tea, finger sandwiches, and other British theme items were put out.  

This is how we pictured some households in the United States to look even though it was before sunrise..

(Image Credit: IMBD)

The royal wedding was viewed all across the world because of one extremely complex piece of technology.  It was because of the awesome company responsible for giving us the ability to communicate and broadcast across the globe since 1965.

However, The Royal Wedding was not the first time IntelSat has brought coverage of history for the entire world to see. It is because of their satellites we were able to watch Neil Armstrong take man’s first steps on the moon in 1969. 500 million people were watching that historic moment “live via satellite”, and here is a simple breakdown as to how (according to NASA and Popular Science):

Step 1: While Neil Armstrong was standing on the porch of the lunar module about to take “one giant leap for mankind”, he pulled a lanyard which released the camera folded in a thermal blanket.  Though it was still tucked in and cozy under the protection of the blanket, there was a tiny spot for the lens to poke through, allowing it to see everything.

Step 2: While inside the cabin of the Lunar Module, Buzz Aldrin hit a circuit breaker.  By doing this, the camera turned on and they were rolling (in Hollywood terms).

Step 3: The signal from the Lunar Module’s antenna was sent to several different tracking stations, which then NASA was able to track the coverage using a scan converter making the footage at 30 fps (frames per second).

Step 4: NASA transmitted different signals from many, many signals from the, you guessed it, IntelSat communications satellite which sent it back down to landlines, bringing it to Houston to the folks at Mission Control, who then broadcasted it for the entire world to witness.

In 2001, IntelSat became a private communications company instead of an intergovernmental organization.  That is when they started to investigate and focus on serving as a media base for the public. They became the largest fixed satellite provider in 2006 when they absorbed PanAmSat and their “video market expertise, advanced satellite fleet and blue-chip media customer base to Intelsat’s portfolio”.  

(Image Credit: IntelSat)

From the Olympics to charity concerts to everything in between, IntelSat has been there for us up in space.  Floating around orbiting Earth, it allows us to be able to see coverage of breaking news and special events. So next time you are watching an event from across the world and you’re tweeting all about it, be sure to send a quick thumbs up emoji to IntelSat and SpaceX to thank them for that to be possible.  

Thank you, IntelSat, for showing us The Royal Wedding and everything else in history and the future.

…oh, and congratulations to Harry and Meghan!

(Image Credit: SpaceX from the launch of IntelSat 35e)

Cassie Thonen is a Space Reporter and Photojournalist for Star Letters.  She studied Studio Art and Design at Northern Illinois University, with a degree emphasis in Photography.  When she is not chasing rockets or staring at the stars, Cassie can be found perfecting her photography or with her dogs, Frankie and Chewie.  You can find her on Twitter and Instagram.

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