Vickery Ave Rose Bay
Fifty years ago, in January 1970, Australia’s second satellite, Australis-OSCAR 5, piggybacked into orbit with a NASA weather satellite. Despite its small size (comparable to a modern cubesat), Australis was a groundbreaking satellite in many ways. Not only was it the first amateur radio satellite built outside the United States, it was also the first in the world to be developed as a student project and incorporated many unique features that were particularly advanced for the time. The brainchild of a group of students from the Melbourne University Astronautical Society, Australis was designed and constructed in 1965-66 and was actually ready to fly before WRESAT (the Weapons Research Establishment satellite). However difficulties with finding a launch in the US for the satellite meant that WRESAT was launched first. With help from the newly-formed AMSAT, Australis eventually flew as OSCAR 5 in 1970. This presentation will explore the fascinating story of Australis-OSCAR 5, its development (a classic example of Australian ‘make do’ ingenuity), the search for a launch and its operational phase once in orbit. A few copies of a recently-published book on the project by members of the original Australis development team will be available for sale at the talk.