The Lowdown Australian Space development

The Lowdown

Australian Space development in focus

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Australia's Satellites & Programs > ASSAT A-series

AUSSAT A-series - the first nationally-owned communication satellites, launched in the mid-1980s and still in service, now renamed the Optus A-series.

AUSSAT A-series AUSSAT A-series

Australia's national satellite company, AUSSAT Proprietary Ltd., in May 1982 selected Hughes Communications International, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hughes Aircraft Company, to develop the country's first satellite program. Under the contract, Hughes Space and Communications Group (SCG) has built three satellites and two telemetry, tracking, command and monitoring (TTC&M) stations. Also provided are launch and operational services and ground support. Both Hughes units are today a part of Boeing Satellite Systems, Inc. (BSS).

The spin stabilized 376, an established communications satellite design, was chosen for Aussat. The first two Australian satellites were launched on the space shuttle in August (Aussat A1 -> Optus A1) and November 1985 (Aussat A2 -> Optus A2). The third was launched in September 1987 (Aussat A3 -> Optus A3) on the Ariane 3 rocket. More information on the AUSSAT series can be found on the Boeing Satellite Systems site.

AUSSAT Proprietary Ltd became the first customer to purchase the Hughes 601 body-stabilized satellite in July 1988, when it ordered two of the high-powered spacecraft to be delivered on orbit for its next-generation system.

Aussat (now Optus Communications Pty. Ltd.) provides a wide range of domestic services to the entire continent and its offshore islands. Services include direct television broadcast to homesteads and remote communities, high-quality television relays between major cities, and voice applications for urban and remote areas.

The Aussat spacecraft each carried 15 Ku-band transponders operating at 14/12 GHz. All were built with 7-year mission lives.

Boeing 376

Boeing 376 Boeing 376

The popular and versatile Boeing 376 spin-stabilized spacecraft is one of the world's most-purchased commercial communications satellite models. The first satellite to be launched by the space shuttle, the Boeing 376 is built by Boeing Satellite Systems.

All Boeing 376 models have two telescoping cylindrical solar panels and antennas that fold for compactness during launch. The basic bus accommodates a wide range of customized payloads, and the satellite can be boosted by any of the world's major launch vehicles.

The Boeing 376 spacecraft is available in several configurations ranging from 800 to 2,000 watts and typically features 24 transponders in C- or Ku-band, or a combination of both.

Fifty-eight Boeing 376 spacecraft have been built or ordered for more than a dozen customers on five continents as of January 2002. Without compromising its proven design, the Boeing 376 continues to evolve to incorporate new technologies, such as more efficient solar cells, as they emerge. The Boeing 376W model is an extension of the Boeing 376 family. The Boeing 376W is larger, wider, and more powerful than the Boeing 376.

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