50th anniversary of Aust satellite launch

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(Australian Associated Press)

Five decades after helping put Australia’s first satellite into space the University of Adelaide is celebrating the achievement.

The Weapons Research Establishment Satellite was launched from the Woomera rocket range in outback South Australia fifty years ago on Wednesday.

It was an incredible feat of engineering, University of Adelaide Professor Mike Brooks says.

With the launch, Australia became only the third country to send a satellite into space from its own territory.

“They were using a modified Redstone rocket donated by the Americans and only had an 11-month window available to plan, design, build and test before launch,” Mr Brooks said.

“Its launch was seen as a huge success for Australia.”

Satellite development has come a long way in 50 years. The satellite weighed nearly 50kg, compared to current designs which are about the size of a loaf of bread.

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