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Australia's Re-Entry Into Space Race Could End Gaps In Satellite Coverage

It's a landmark launch.

22/04/2017 9:51 AM AEST | Updated 22/04/2017 10:19 AM AEST
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Australian satellites were launched this week.

Australia's return to the space race could provide valuable data on upper atmospheric weather and help close gaps in satellite coverage, an expert says.

The three satellites, made Down Under, blasted into orbit this week. It was the first time in 15 years that Aussie-made satellites have been sent into space.

They are the work of 50 University of Adelaide students and staff.

Since the launch, the Australian research satellites have reportedly been successfully transferred to the international space station where they are awaiting a catapult out of a canon and into orbit.

Dr Brad Tucker, an astronomer at Canberra's Mt Stromlo Observatory, said the satellites were part of a network being built to provide "continuing monitoring of the upper atmosphere".

"When we talk about gaps in satellite coverage, by having tons of them (satellites) we actually end the problem of having gaps in satellite coverage," he told the Seven Network on Saturday.

The satellites would collect data from the thermosphere on things like solar flares, upper atmosphere winds and storm systems.

"It's really (about) predicting better monitoring and space weather monitoring," he added.

It's only the third time that Aussie-constructed satellites have been sent into space, with the first orbital device launched back in 1967, followed by one in 2002.

The latest Australian satellites, known as "cubesats", join a total of 28 satellites recently launched into space on a rocket from an air force base in the US.

The small satellites weigh just 1.3kg each, but researchers say they could provide groundbreaking data on weather and communication systems.

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