Westar 1 was America's first domestic and commercially launched geostationary communications satellite, launched by Western Union and NASA on April 13, 1974. It was built by Hughes for Western Union, using the HS-333 platform of spin-stabilized satellites. Westar 1 was the first of five Westar satellites launched by Western Union from 1974 to 1982. Westars 1, 2, and 3 were 12-transponder satellites while Westar 4 and Westar 5 were launched with 24 transponders. Western Union built a teleport in Cedar Hill, Texas, to uplink content to the Westar satellites. A sixth satellite, Westar 6, was launched in 1984 but failed to reach orbit and was retrieved by the STS-51-A Space Shuttle mission later that year. It was later refurbished and relaunched in orbit of Asia as AsiaSat 1 in 1990.
Westar 1 was used by Western Union for its own internal communications, such as for sending telegrams and mailgrams to Western Union bureaus and U.S. post offices respectively. It also was utilized by outside customers such as PBS, NPR and the Mutual Broadcasting System, using it for sending television and radio programming via satellite to their local affiliate stations throughout the 1970s and '80s. Westar 1 was also used for a short time by HBO for its nationwide debut using satellite distribution to cable companies in 1975 (HBO later moved to RCA's competing satellite, Satcom 1, in February 1976).
Westar 1 was retired from service in April 1983. The 15-meter dishes used to communicate with it have been decommissioned, but they can still be visited today by contacting Westar Satellite Services.