Until the 1960s, voice communications between North America and other continents were very expensive. In 1962, Telstar, the world's first active communications satellite, was sent into orbit. Chemistry enhanced the structural materials (metal alloys, plastic, and other advanced materials), computer and electronic components, and the fuel technology necessary to launch these satellites.
Communications satellites played a major role in expanding both international and domestic long distance calling and television transmission until the 1990s. Today, communications satellites play an increasing role in television transmission, including direct broadcasts to home satellite dishes with digital television.