Celebrating 50 years of space research at the University of Melbourne

Fifty years of space technology at the University of Melbourne-A Symposium

Monday 5 October, from 5.30 till 7.00 pm

Brown Theatre (Room 108), Electrical and Electronic Building, University of Melbourne

To find out more about the University of Melbourne Space Program:

Nearly fifty years ago, a group of University of Melbourne engineering students began construction of the first earth satellite built in Australia.

Construction of the satellite (Australis Oscar 5 –AO5) was completed in 1967, and it was launched into orbit by a US Air Force rocket in 1970.

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.

In late 2014, a team of University of Melbourne students formed the University of Melbourne Space Program (UMSP) to continue what the alumni group began. This team is developing a full space program and building another University of Melbourne satellite. The UMSP vision is to increase humanity’s access to space.

Rod Tucker, a Laureate Emeritus Professor at the University of Melbourne along with several other academics was part of the original satellite group. Since then, he has witnessed enormous advances in communications technology.

“Looking back, it was an ambitious project, and we worked under challenging circumstances. But we had confidence in our abilities and a will to succeed. We made a significant contribution to our understanding of Space,” he said.

“It is great to see another generation of committed Space enthusiasts embarking upon such an ambitious project,” Professor Tucker said.

Troy McCann, Managing Director of the UMSP said the exchange of experience and ideas has been fruitful. Satellites were once the size of trucks but are now barely larger than a Rubik’s cube.

“We have a unique opportunity to work with some brilliant minds here at the University of Melbourne. We are pleased to be working with our Alumni who are mentoring and guiding us,” he said.

In this special symposium, five members of the original student team that built AO5, including Professor Rod Tucker, will give an overview of the design and construction of the AO5 satellite and describe their motivations and the challenges they faced.

Members of the UMSP will give presentations on the design and construction of their satellite and will outline their plans for completing construction, testing and deployment of the satellite into low earth orbit.