Successful launch of ATLAS V rocket

Published in the Research School of Physics Event Horizon
Vol43 Issue14 24–28 April 2017

The Atlas V rocket carrying our 3 Australian QB50 satellites launched successfully from Cape Canaveral at 1 am on April 19th Oz time, the first Australian-built satellites in space for 16 years. The satellites (in the Cygnus capsule) will reach the ISS on April 22, a day or so after the crew change. They should be released on 15 May.
AU03 INSPIRE-2 is a USyd/ANU/UNSW collaboration locally lead by Prof Charles: SP3/CPF provided the essential COTS satellite components (on-board computer, battery board, ADCS board, communications board and the satellite structure), and the final space qualification and testing of the 3 Australian satellites was carried out in the WOMBAT XL space simulation chamber at the Advanced Instrumentation Technology Centre at RSAA, Mount Stromlo. A ground station with UHF and VHF satellite tracking antennas located on the roof of the Weigold building has been set up in preparation for the scientific data downlink aiming at the multi-point measurements of plasma parameters in the lower thermosphere and ionosphere of the Earth over a period of one year. SP3 also designed a plasma wind tunnel to calibrate the miniaturised ion neutral mass spectrometer, one of the key European Union payload instruments installed on 12 of the 36 QB50 CubeSats.
 
Interestingly, this year is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Australia’s first satellite, WRESAT.  Former RSPE Director, the late Professor John Carver, led the University of Adelaide collaboration with Weapons Research Establishment (equiv. DSTG) to develop this satellite.  We’ll be celebrating the actual launch date towards the end of this year.

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