Below this introduction is the history page for the historic website of the GPS Signal Science Division of the Cooperative Research Centre for Satellite Systems, the CRCSS. This Centre was directed by Dr Elizabeth Essex-Cohen of La Trobe University, with much GPS and ionospheric research being undertaken at La Trobe University, but other GPS related, especially more applied application research being undertaken at other Australian centres. The website includes a brief accounts of plans for CRCSS research conducted at other Australian centres. However the value of this site was greatly enhanced by providing an account of the history of satellites, and of Australia's involvement in this history.
Note that FedSat was not in fact launched until December 14, 2002, and the projected ARIES satellite project never went ahead.
The historic home page for the GPS Signal Science Division of the CRC for Satellite Systems is here

A few of the images that were no longer available have been replaced. Some broken links remain.

UPDATED 2017: New text in Green
Australia in Space - a History
Third in Space --Thirty years of inaction -- Rebirth with FedSat 1
Sputnik launched 1957, Explorer 1 in 1958, then with WRESAT in 1967 Australia came third in the satellite league table, passing Canada's Alouette, and France's FR-1. See the Satellite Big league Table below.
Here come Australia's latest satellites, FedSat in 2001, and ARIES in 2000.
The caption above may be a little unfair (to Australia) as various Australian researchers have been involved with satellite science and technology over the years - but always using someone else's space vehicle. With FedSat 1, we at long last have the opportunity to launch and operate our own satellite.
Australian scientific satellites are:
WRESAT Launched 29 November 1967 from Woomera, South Australia.

The first stage of the launch veicle was a USAF Redstone Rocket. Initially over painted white. The first stage was recovered from Prohibited Area at Woomera and put on display at Woomera village.

The launching gantry erected at Woomera for the UK Blue Streak missile project was comparable to those at Cape Caneveral. However following on the cancellation of the Blue Streak missile project, the multi-story building, erected at a remote location at great expense by Australia, was demolished, in an outstanding act of Forward Thinking. See Woomera Story.
Australis launched 23 Jan 1970 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California. -- called by NASA OSCAR-5
ARIES Australian Resource Information and Environment Satellite Scheduled to be launched 2000 Project was scrapped.
FedSat 1 Scheduled to be launched in 2001 .
Announced by Federal Science and Technology Minister, Peter McGauran
See Press Release FedSat on Track for Federation Launch
In addition to these scientific satellites, there have been a number of telecommunication satellites,
including Aussat 1, 2, B1 and K3.
FedSat Australia's second scientific satellite was developed by a consortium of CSIRO, Universities and Space Industry companies called the Cooperative Research Centre for Satellite Systems (CRCSS)

Pix to left is of the actual satellite, with boom arm retracted, in the cargo bay of the Japanese H-IIA rocket which launched FedSat along with the Microlabsat and WEOS microsatellites.
The launch from the Tanegashima Space Center, Japan, took place on Saturday December 14, 2002 ; FedSat was operational for over five years.
Australia's third scientific satellite launch, involved not just one but three nano-satellites called CubeSats. All three were launched by NASA to the ISS from Cape Canaveral on April 19, 2017, to be actually launched into orbit from the International Space Station a month later. The three stackable satellites launched were Inspire-2 ( Univ Sydney ), SuSat ( Univ Adelaide), and UNSW-ECO (Univ NSW) as part of a European project, QB50, which involves 50 such nano satellites.

To left artists impression.
The Ancient History of Space Science in Australia

    On 1 April 1947, the United Kingdom / Australian Joint Project came into existence and marks the commencement of Australian Space Program(s). In a memo to PM JB Chifley, 20 Sept 1946, it is stated that ".. this project ... without question put Australia in the very forefront of the most modern developments in ... Science." The project essentially came to an end with the launch of WRESAT in 1967. With the launching of WRESAT, Australia did indeed join the big league of nations launching satellites from their own territory, of which the US and the USSR were the only members at that date. But there was no ongoing Australian Space Program for over thirty years. The only exception to this statement was the launch in 1970 of the very modest Australian satellite, Australis, given a free launch by NASA, which called it Oscar-5. Australis was a simple beacon satellite, like Sputnik -1, with on-board receivers to control powering down (to conserve its alkaline batteries.)
    But over thirty years, while communication satellites became commonplace, there were no further Australian developmental or scientific satellites. However, at the start of the next millenium, this dream of fifty years ago may yet come true. CRC SS Chair Tony Staley has prophesised that "the FedSat project would generate a new spirit of nat ional confidence and encourage young Australians to set their sights on the star s." See Mission of FedSat
The Special Possibilities for FedSat GPS
The special opportunity and challenge that FedSat presents is to use the signals from GPS and Glonass satellites to probe the atmospher and ionosphere. Better knowledge of atmosphere temperature and water vapour content, has great promise to improve weather prediction. Better knowledge of the ionosphere (and plasmasphere) -- the so-called space weather -- is vital to satellite communication and the application of long range radar. Yet GPS system became fully operational only in 1995. FedSat's exciting use of GPS features in the ATMOZ - GPS Project For the technically inclined, see the Overview of GPS = Global Positioning System Compare with Russian system GLONASS
FedSat 1 and International Collaboration in Space Science
With FedSat, Australian scientists can for the first time in 30 years participate fully in space science. We shall participate in Mission to Planet Earth the Satellite Data Information Scheme devised by NASA. Now adopted by COSSA for use in Australia's space program
Other resources on Australian Space Science:
  • Resources in Space Science Web Page Compendium by Mike Walsh, Hamilton College.
  • "Australia's involvement in space" by Kerrie Dougherty. Popular level Stocked by Dymocks, $29.95.
First Nations into Space
The Big League Table of the Nations That Have Launched Satellites
1 Russia Sputnik 01, launched on October 4, 1957 from Central Russia
2 USA Launched first successful satellite Explorer 1, January 31, 1958
Canada launched Alouette 1, 2 Sept 1962, 25 Nov 1965 from Vandenberg (US) .
France launched FR-1 satellite from Algeria 6 Dec 1965
3 Australia launchel WRESAT 29 November 1967 from Woomera, South Australia.
Sputnik launched 1957, Explorer 1 in 1958, then with WRESAT in 1967 Australia came third in the satellite league table, passing Canada's Alouette, and France's FR-1. Although Australia was at the forefront of Man's initial steps into space, the retirement of Sir Robert Menzies as PM heralded a long era of neglect of satellite technology.
See The history of Australia in space
Firsts in Space         Milestones in Space Technology

FIRST SPACE WALK The first "space-walk" by the Russian Leonov on March 18,1965
FIRST SPACE WALK The first US astronaut to perform a (tethered) space walk: Ed White. Date: June 3-7, 1965.
STS-41B FIRST SPACE WALK STS-41B: The First Untethered Space Walk. Orbiter: Challenger Launched: February 3, 1984 Landed: February 11, 1984
FIRST SPACE WALK First Extravehicular Activity
25 November, 1997
Japanese astronaut Takao Doi and NASA astronaut Winston Scott grabbed malfunctioning spinning satellite from the shuttle.

1929 Noordung describes radio communications with space station in geosynchronous orbit, large antennas, solar power
1945 Rand study by Ridenour proposed synchronous communication relay system
1946 Arthur C. Clarke shows how three stations in synchronous orbit provide global coverage in article "Extra-Terrestrial Relays"
1954 Naval Research Lab relays radio voice message using Moon Earth -to -Earth Speech Communication via Satellite
First instance of radio communication via a satellite, in this case a natural satellite.
Oct 1957 Sputnik First Radio Broadcasts from Space
Only beeps -- but listened to by millions
1959 Moon Link - Washington DC and Hawaii Moon Relay Defence Communication
An operational system
July 10, 1962 Telstar I launched First (commercial) telephone satellite
NASA with AT&T . Geostationary.
Dec 13, 1962 Relay 1 launched
Relay II launched shortly afterwards
First commercial TV transmission via satellite.
Tokyo Olympics transmitted from US to Europe (1964)
Feb 14, 1963 Syncom I launched
NASA + Hughes
July 26, 1963 Syncom 2 launched
on a Delta rocket booster from Cape Canaveral.
Syncom 2 was the first operational geosynchronous satellite.
Was used for the very first satellite relayed telephone call.
Apr 6, 1965 Comsat's Early Bird launched
Oct 26, 1966 Intelsat IIA launched
Dec 7, 1966 ATS 1 launched
Geostationary satellite above Hawaii.
ATS 1 transmitted weather images and data to ground stations, as well as video feeds for television broadcasting.
Functioned as stationary beacon satellite for pioneering studies (1969+) of ionospheric plasma
TEC by Elizabeth Essex-Cohen of La Trobe University, Melbourne.
[ TEC = Total Electron Content of the ionosphere along radio path from beacon to receiver.]
Jan 11, 1967 INTELSAT 2 F-2 launched
aka INTELSAT 28; Pacific 1;
2F2; I2F2; 02639
Launched by NASA at Cape Canaveral for the International Telecommunications Satellite Corporation.
A COMSAT Corporation commercial communications satellite, it reached its intended location on February 4, 1967.
Notably was used as a beacon satellite for the first ionospheric plasma TEC measurements in an auroral zone
by La Trobe grad. student Brenton Watkins at ANARE Base, Macquarie Island in 1970.

Mariner 10
First Planetary Sling Shot
Mariner 10 was the first space vehicle to use the gravitational pull of one planet (Venus) to reach another (Mercury). Launched November 3, 1973, Mariner 10 was for a short time a solar satellite, in orbit about the sun.
Pioneer 10 and 11 were the first two Space Vehicles to Escape from the Solar System
  • Pioneer 10 was launched on March 2, 1972.
  • Pioneer 11 was launched on April 5, 1973.
See History of Space Exploration: Pioneer 10 & 11 Spacecraft
The famous 6 inch by 9 inch plaque with a message to aliens, was attached to the casing of both Pioneer 10 and 11.

Click to read the latest News About Satellites, with an Australian Flavour.

The graphic to the left shows radar being bounced off the sea from the Topex-Poseidon Satellite. Used by an Australian researcher to monitor the ionosphere over the Southern Ocean.

See also, Holes in the Ionosphere
over Tasmania.

Enquiries and comments to the Webmaster   Dr Harvey A. Cohen
GPS Signal Science in the CRCSS CRCSS Home Page