The students who built Australia's first satellite

In the 1960's, a group of students at the University of Melbourne embarked on an impressive endeavour, to build Australia's first satellite. In the face of adversity and obstacles, that students rarely must overcome, they saw their satellite launched by NASA in 1970. Although much has changed for Owen Mace and Richard Tonkin since then, one thing has stayed the same, their passion for space.

Join Australia's leading space historian Kerrie Dougherty in conversation with Owen and Richard. They will uncover the story of passion and perseverance behind one of Australia's first satellites and the different challenges that would affect students attempting the same mission today, over 50 years on.

Attend this one time event in-person or online. This will run for 45 minutes to an hour with time for questions.

Those attending in-person will also have the opportunity for one-on-one discussion with Owen and Richard afterwards as well as explore the rest of what the Discovery Centre has to offer.

Event details

When: 9th October 3:30pm-5:00pm (ACST).

Session Duration: up to 0 minutes.

Participant numbers: 60 in-person and 500 online tickets.

Book your free tickets via Trybooking:

About the speakers

Richard Tonkin was fascinated seeing Sputnik in the sky over Melbourne on 5 October 1957. He was an impressionable teenager at the time and that fascination has stayed with him throughout his life. Richard took 10 years to complete his 4 year Law course as he was often diverted by his passions to track satellites and becoming a member of the Australis team. He completed Law and had a career as a solicitor in Melbourne, while finding time to raise a family, attend space launches in Russia, China, Japan, the U.U. and French Guiana and lobby government to establish a space agency.  

Owen Mace was eleven when he saw the world's first satellite march across the sky 65 years ago and it changed Owen's life.  Arriving at the University of Melbourne, he discovered others with the same passion for space - they were receiving signals from space and even collecting pictures from satellites on behalf of the Bureau of Meteorology.  One day someone said, we are listening to satellites, why don't we build our own.  Since no satellite had been built in Australia, there was no one to say it couldn't be done.  Australis OSCAR 5 reached orbit in January 1970 and operated successfully for over six week.