Nearly fifty years ago, a group of University of Melbourne engineering students began construction of the first earth satellite built in Australia. AO5 carried out a number of measurements in space, and successfully responded to commands from earth. The satellite was tracked by a group of amateur radio operators around the world. In the 45 years since then, no Australian university has repeated this. This team is developing a full space program and building another University of Melbourne satellite. Rod Tucker, a Laureate Emeritus Professor at the University of Melbourne along with several other academics was part of the original satellite group.
Australis (Australis-OSCAR 5, AO 5, A-O-A)
The students who built Australia’s first satellite | Pursuit by The University of Melbourne
The launch began the space age as countries raced to be the next to get a human-made object into orbit. Dr Mace was one of a group of 20 University of Melbourne students who met weekly as the Astronautical Society to discuss satellites, antennas, electronics and all things space. Realising that there was no point simply building a satellite, it needed to be launched, the group wrote to one of two countries that had successfully launched satellites at that time — the United States. After this renewed interest, things sped up. The batteries in Australis were refurbished and tested to ensure it would survive the launch and it was ready to go. On Friday 23 January at Australis OSCAR 5, the first student-built satellite, operated successfully and orbited for over six weeks until the batteries exhausted.
The students who built Australia’s first satellite
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