Bruce in Spaceeeeeee............
If Bruce goes into space, who'll look after the sheep dip?
Australia has itself a space strategy of sorts: nothing grand, but a signal that the dearth of space applications research down under might finally come to an end. The focus of the government strategy, launched yesterday, is going to be on satellites rather than the scary stuff like launch platforms. In part, it appears to be …
It is a little known fact that Australia launched a satellite on 29 November 1967.
The satellite was launched into orbit from the Woomera Rocket Range, which is in a very isolated desert part of South Australia. The payload was shaped like a cone and was just over two metres long, weighing more than 70 kg. It carried scientific tests for measuring the composition of the atmosphere and solar radiation. The satellite was in orbit for about six weeks before it re-entered the atmosphere. Australian scientists continued important space research using rockets fired from Woomera until it was closed in 1980.
Wresat, named after WRE, the Weapons Research Establishment. Amongst the fun projects they did was "Airborne Recovery", an attempt to catch missiles in nets dragged behind Beaufort bombers.
Their most successful ongoing activity, in that it made money was, err, sheep grazing on their extensive site.
Supposedly is one of the only rocket launching facilities where the launch and recovery were in the same country, was a landing zone on the West Australian coast.
There is a $10,000 departure tax if you leave the country on a rocket.
Australia also has the distinction of selling uranium to another country so it could have bombs exploded on its soil. Also they once sprayed plutonium across the desert by melting it with explosives. Fun times.
I was very lucky to collect on eBay a few years ago, some WRESAT memorabilia,
in the form of a desk set with a scale model of the satellite pointing optimistically
upward on a little stand on a base of the same material. Inset in the base is a brass
receptacle and inside that was a lapel pin, with WRESAT logo on it. Obviously this
was some commemorative kit and seems it might have been turned in the lab, by
someone involved on the project. It is made of some kind of metal that might
be offcuts of material used in the original project. I am so lucky to have this
piece of Australia's space history. I have scoured everything I know about WRESAT
but no info about where ithis might have been presented if at all...
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