Early Satellite Ranging Experiments - c.1970

In the late 1960s DCA Engineer Brian O'Keefe was involved in early studies of the application of satellite systems for civil aviation. He carried out ranging measurement experiments using the ATS-1 satellite and pseudo-random code techniques.

The photo above shows Brian O'Keefe at Melbourne Airport (Tullamarine) in about 1970 "with my famous (or infamous) satellite antenna made of old building materials, etc, gathered on site. The actual helical antenna was made from a length of coax cable that had been run over by a mower and abandoned. You will see that the top timber supporting the helix was not quite long enough, so I added a piece of a packing case (with address still attached). The antenna worked very well, so much so that nobody was game to touch it lest it stop working! With the transmitter and receiver in the building, we used the antenna to measure the distance from Melbourne Airport to the US satellite ATS-1 in a geostationary orbit above the Pacific. The ranging system we used was the one now used for GPS: another first for DCA!"

For his pioneering work on the use of satellites for communications and navigation in civil aviation, Brian O'Keefe was in 2004 presented with ICAO's prestigious Edward Warner Award.

(Photo: Brian O'Keeffe collection)

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