Australia's First Satellite
Wresat 1 Launch Australia's Project WRESAT (Weapons Research Establishment Satellite) involved the development and launch from Woomera of a small scientific satellite at 2.19 pm on 29 November 1967 (local time), thereby making Australia only the fourth country to launch its own satellite from its own territory after the U.S.S.R., U.S.A. and France. The satellite, with its third stage rocket motor still attached attached, was placed in a near-polar orbit by a U.S. Redstone rocket.

The satellite re-entered over the Atlantic Ocean west of Ireland at 11:34 GMT on 10 January 1968. It had completed 642 orbits and transmitted scientific data for 73 orbits.

The first stage of the launch vehicle fell in the Simpson Desert of central Australia, while the second stage came down in the Gulf of Carpentaria. Little of the second stage would have survived re-entry. However, the first stage was recovered in April 1990 and returned to Woomera some 600 kilometres south. 


Extend the range of scientific data relating to the upper atmosphere;

Assist the U.S. in obtaining physical data of relevance to its research programs;

Develop techniques relevant to the launching trials in the ELDO and British satellite programs;

Demonstrate an Australian capability for developing a satellite using advanced technology and existing low-cost launch facilities at Woomera.


Height of satellite:
1.59 metres

Base diameter:
0.76 metres

approx. 45 kilograms

Length with 3rd stage motor:
2.17 metres

Orbital Mass with
3rd stage motor:
approx. 72.6 kilograms

The WRESAT project followed on from an existing program of upper atmospheric research using sounding rockets. The satellite was developed by the then Weapons Research Establishment (Salisbury, South Australia) and the Department of Physics at the University of Adelaide in South Australia. The project took less than a year from concept to launch.  The Redstone launch vehicle was left over from the SPARTA project - a joint U.S.-U.K.-Australian research program aimed at understanding re-entry phenomena.

The U.S. Department of Defense donated the modified Redstone vehicle and the services of the TRW  vehicle preparation team, while the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) supplied global tracking and data acquisition services. Facilities of the Joint Australia/United Kingdom Weapon Testing Project supported the launch activities.

A History of Woomera
Research Missiles
Tracking Stations
Range News
Gibber Gabber
Woomera Village
Woomera Life
Memories of Woomera

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Copyright © 1997-2001 Mark T. Rigby
(Updated: 24 October, 2001)