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Optus Satellite notches up 30 Years

Despite a few challenges getting off the ground, Australia’s first satellite was launched 30 years ago today.

The year was 1985. Following two launch delays due to inclement weather and a computer glitch, the Space Shuttle Discovery successfully launched from Florida’s Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral carrying the A1 satellite – Australia’s first satellite – and two other commercial satellites into space.

Following the successful deployment of the A1 satellite on the first day of the mission, as was the NASA tradition at the time, music was used to wake the astronauts and on the second day the Discovery crew woke to the sounds of Waltzing Matilda, heralding Australia’s own piece of space history.

30 years after the historic launch, the genesis of Australia’s satellite history continues with Optus Satellite celebrating the three decade milestone.

“Since the launch of Aussat A1 from our control centre at Belrose on this day in 1985, we have substantially grown Australia’s communications capability – something that no other telecommunications company in Australia has been able to match,” Rob Parcell, Managing Director, Optus Wholesale, Satellite and SMB said.

“We’ve had three decades to build our expertise and global reputation as Australia’s leading satellite provider and the only owner and operator of satellites servicing Australia and New Zealand. Our expertise has been underpinned by the unique skillset and specialised knowledge of our employees, some of whom remain with us today, 30 years after that historic launch.”

The launch of Aussat A1 in August 1985 represented the commencement of domestic satellite services in Australia, designed with a particular focus on remote and rural TV broadcasting.

“Since that time we have successfully launched nine additional satellites of our own including our Optus B-Series, C1 and D-Series satellites, through to our Optus 10 satellite, in order to meet the needs of our customers,” Paul Sheridan, Vice President Optus Satellite said.

Optus Satellite has the largest fleet of satellites servicing Australia and New Zealand, with 6 satellites currently in geostationary orbit. The most recent satellite to launch was Optus 10, in September 2014.

“Not only have we efficiently managed our own fleet of satellites, we have also assisted with the launch of 88 satellites and provided transfer orbit operations and Telemetry, Tracking and Command services to other satellite operators around the world, accessing space. This has all been achieved using our excellent Australian facilities, and is a reflection of the global recognition we receive as a respected satellite specialist.”

“We manage and control satellite services at our state of the art satellite facilities in Belrose and Oxford Falls in Sydney, Hume in Canberra and Lockridge in Perth,” Mr Sheridan added.

“We are very proud of our success over the last 30 years in delivering world class services to our customers. The expertise of the Optus Satellite team is globally recognised and we are looking forward to leveraging this expertise further on the soon to be launched NBN satellites that the Optus team has been entrusted to fly on behalf of NBN Co.,”Mr Sheridan said.