Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Launch of Australia's 1st Satellite

41 years ago today, Australia's first satellite was launched from the Woomera rocket range in South Australia. Incidentally, Woomera is an aboriginal invention that assists with the throwing of spears. WRESAT was a project fully designed and constructed by the Weapons Research Establishment and launched within 11 months of its initiation. The satellite which weighed over 50Kg and was 2m in length carried scientific instruments for upper atmospheric research. The launch vehicle consisted of three stages with the first stage being a Redstone rocket - a direct descendent of the German V-2.

You can watch a video from the National Film & Sound Archive of the WRESAT launch.

Following launch the first stage of the rocket fell back to earth in the Simpson Desert. The remnants of this stage were recovered by volunteers in April 1990. It is believe the second stage would have come down somewhere in the Gulf of Carpentaria.

WRESAT successfully entered an elliptical polar orbit and continued to operate for two weeks. As the satellite's closest approach to earth was a mere 198 km, its orbit degraded rapidly, re-entering the atmosphere on 10 January 1968 and burning up.

View Larger Map


Anonymous said...

Is that a person climbing up the gantry? I sure hope he has a harness.

Aussie Stories said...

Yes it is. If anyone knows who that is or what they were doing, please let us know.

Ross W Nelson said...

can u tell me which pad was used to launched wresat from? was it the from one of the (eldo?) pads over the cliff edge at the lake or one or the 3 main ones at the range head or somewhere else?

if you have an exact lat/long (using google earth) that would be great.....