Australia's first scientific satellite in a generation

Science Minister McGauran announced the FEDSAT project in the 1996/97 budget. He asked CSIRO to lead the project, which is essentially the flagship of Commonwealth space activities. The objective is to build a small scientific satellite and launch it during 2001, the centenary of the Commonwealth of Australia.

Minister McGauran asked CSIRO, in conjunction with universities and industry, to prepare a funding bid for a Co-operative Research Centre (CRC) from which the FEDSAT project would be carried out. This bid, for the "Co-operative Research Centre for Satellite Systems", was presented to the Department of Industry in November 1996, and has the following partners:

If the CRC proposal is accepted, the Hon. Tony Staley, Federal President of the Liberal Party and Chair of the CRC Association, will be the Chairman of the Board; Dr Brian Embleton, Head of COSSA, will be the Executive Director, and Professor Michael Miller of the University of South Australia will be the Deputy Executive Director.

Earlier in April 1997 the Department of Industry Science and Tourism, which operates the CRC scheme, asked the proponents to prepare a supplementary submission, with additional details on the CRC research program. This submission is under preparation, and the CRC bid remains under consideration within the current (1996/97) CRC round. The other CRCs to be supported under this round were announced in December 1996.

As planned by the CRC partners, FEDSAT-1 will be a microsatellite of about 50 kg mass, in a low Earth orbit of approximately 1000 km altitude. The preferred orbital plane at this stage is a low inclination one, to promote inter-satellite and ground to ground communication using FEDSAT and the planned small satellite missions of neighbouring countries over the same time period.

The 5 principle missions of FEDSAT are: communications; space science; remote sensing; engineering research; and education/training, as follows:

Communication: test satellite- to-satellite communication; carry out experiments (with Nanyang University, Singapore, and others) in operating mulit-satellite Low Earth Obit constellations; test Ka-band downlink; carry out digital signal processing experiments in multi-media data transmission, paging, and remote area personal safety communications.

Space Science: NEWMAG experiment in solar-terrestrial physics, to measure electrical currents and perturbations in the Earth's magnetic field.

Remote sensing: GPS occultation experiment for atmospheric sounding.

Engineering research ("device qualification"): test of solar panel efficiency, new on-board processors, space qualification of GPS receiver.

Education and training: About a dozen professional staff in participating companies will, over the next 7 years (the development and operations period for FEDSAT), gain hands on experience in space missions. Several dozen graduate students, academics and research agency staff will gain hands-on experience in space technology and science, will help design and test payloads, and will take part in experiments and research based upon the operation of those payloads. This group will form the skilled resource base for follow-on space missions, for which the CRC will help develop a commercial market while also maintaining a public interest market.

The launch vehicle is yet to be selected, but a number of options are available to the partners.

CSIRO, on behalf of the CRC partners, will be regularly updating information on FEDSAT through CSIRO Space Industry News.

See also

Media release: Future direction of Australian space effort (Minister McGauran)

Media release: CSIRO's role in Australia's space effort (Dr Malcolm McIntosh)


Further information on microsatellites:






CRCSS Head Office Home Page is at www.crcss.csiro.au