UniSA's Latest International Space Mission

ITR's all-new tracking mission.

Only months after the demise of the Australian satellite FedSat, UniSA’s Institute for Telecommunications Research (ITR) has an all-new tracking mission - for the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales on behalf of the European Space Agency and Arianespace.

This Sunday March 9, an Ariane 5 rocket will be launched from French Guiana carrying the Jules Verne ATV (Automated Transfer Vehicle), headed for the International Space Station (ISS).

It is an important mission, and not just for the food, air and water the astronauts need aboard the ISS. The ATV will also boost the ISS’s orbit to overcome the effects of atmospheric drag and will take away ISS waste at the end of its six-month journey.

ITR Director, Professor Alex Grant said UniSA’s is one of only six stations worldwide tracking the rocket’s progress.

“ITR will be recording data, such as speed, location and status, being sent from the Ariane rocket as it travels through the Earth’s atmosphere at 28,000km per hour,” Prof Grant said.

“This information is invaluable to Arianespace to analyse whether the rocket’s systems performed as they should.”

The Ariane 5 upper stage will pass over Adelaide twice in less than a two-hour period, with the ATV being released by the Ariane 5 rocket to transfer to the ISS just after the first pass. The ITR’s tracking dish at Mawson Lakes will be the only ground station to record an important rocket boost stage in the eastern sky of Adelaide.

Prof Grant said he hoped the March mission will be the first of many more to come.

“The European Space Agency plans to launch at least five ATVs to service the ISS.

“ITR’s role is essential as part of the global network of tracking stations providing critical real-time data to the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales for this mission. We’re excited to be a part of that network.”

For more information about the Ariane/ATV launch, visit the European Space Agency and Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales websites.