Australia picks Hughes satellites to link communications ‘down under’—Hughes News May 28, 1982 By Ken Munroe Transcribed by Faith MacPherson

Australia’s first satellite program will have “as profound an effect on Australian life” as did the completion of that country’s first overland telegraph line in 1872.

“The system is a historic new step in communications and broadcasting,” said Ian Sinclair, Australia’s minister for Communications. His remarks were made during announcement of the agreement between Aussat Proprietary, Ltd., Australia’s national satellite company, and Hughes Communications International, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hughes Aircraft, which handles management of commercial satellite systems outside the United States.

Space and Communications Group’s Commercial Systems Division will build three satellites and two satellite control ground facilities under the $175 million contract.

Among the services offered will be the first television transmissions to many of the communities and homesteads in Australia’s remote outback regions.

High quality television relays between major cities, digital transmissions, and telephone communications will be carried over the system, which also will provide improved air traffic control services and maritime radio coverage.

Australia’s choice of SCG’s HS 376 communications satellite design for the three spacecraft brings to 23 the number of HS 376s ordered by customers around the world.

The spacecraft are designed for launch on the Space Shuttle, a Delta class rocket, or the European Ariane rocket. Aussat has not yet selected the launch vehicle.

When the first Australian satellite goes up in mid-1985, 15 other HS 376s will have been launched and will have accumulated more than 37 years of communications services in orbit.

Each spacecraft will carry 15 channels. Four will use high power, 30-watt traveling wave tube amplifiers (TWTA) to provide radio and television services in Australia’s remote areas and the remaining 11 channels will operate with lower power, 12-watt TWTAs.

The satellite’s innovative, dual-polarization, three-reflector antenna system, designed by Eng Ha in SCG Technology Division’s Antenna Department, produces seven transmit beams and three receive beams.

Two of the transmit beams cover the entire Australian continent, which is about the size of the U.S. Four high performance transmit spot beams are contoured for regional coverage in Australia and one transit beam is for Papua New Guinea.

The communications channels may be connected individually to the transmit beams by ground command. This provides traffic assignment flexibility for the system.

These beams will allow the system to provide a variety of communications services to the continent, Papua New Guinea and Australia’s off shore islands, including the Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands.

The first two satellites will be operational and the third will be an on-orbit spare. They will operate from geosynchronous orbit 22,300 miles above the equator at 156, 160, and 164 degrees east longitude.

In addition to three satellites, SCG is responsible for tracking, telemetry, command, and monitoring equipment and its installation in Australia.

A 12-meter tracking antenna and control equipment for all three satellites will be installed at the Master Control Station in Sydney. Back-up control equipment will be installed at the Perth ground station.

Monitoring equipment will be a part of Earth stations in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, and Adelaide.





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About Jack Fisher

Jack was a systems engineer at Hughes from 1961 to 1992. He contributed to various programs including Surveyor, Pioneer Venus, Galileo, Intelsat VI and innumerable proposals. He was the manager of of the Spacecraft Systems Engineering Lab until his retirement. Upon retirement Jack taught systems engineering at a number of national and international venues.

1 thought on “Australia picks Hughes satellites to link communications ‘down under’—Hughes News May 28, 1982 By Ken Munroe Transcribed by Faith MacPherson

  1. On August 27th we celebrate 30 years since the launch of the first Aussat HS376!
    After the contract for Aussat was signed the company sent over a team of employees to man the resident program office. We arrived in LA in October 1982. Those in the spacecraft RPO were Wayne Nowland, Max Crisp, Graham Brown, Gordon Pike, Peter Gorian, Andrew Edwards, Mark Thompson, Brett Poynton and Dean Hope. Graham Brown and lots of ground engineers worked in Torrance on the ground system.
    Some of us returned to prepare for the first launch in December 1984 while the rest stayed to follow the satellite to launch and then get ready for the K2 launch later in the year.
    Of all those in the RPO several went on to make lifelong careers in the space industry both in Australia and overseas.

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