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Optus D1 satellite to provide critical link to Antarctica and to help monitor our changing Earth
20 Sep 2007

Optus announced today the Optus D1 satellite, the first of the latest generation of Optus' D-series satellites, has been selected to provide a critical communications link between the United States Antarctic facility at McMurdo Sound and Optus Satellite facility in Sydney, Australia.

Paul Sheridan, Head of Optus Satellite, said "Optus has been leading the way in satellite-based communication services for over 20 years. We are delighted the state-of-the-art Optus D1 satellite has been selected to be used as part of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) network."

NPOESS will use polar-orbiting satellites to observe Earth from space. The satellites will collect and disseminate data on Earth's weather, atmosphere, oceans, land, and near-space environment. The polar orbiting satellites are able to monitor the entire planet and will bring improved data and imagery that will allow better weather forecasts, severe-weather monitoring and detection of climate change.

The raw data collected by the NPOESS satellites is then modelled at the U.S. based weather data centres and distributed to a global user population which includes bodies such as bureaus of meteorology.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) manages and funds the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP), which coordinates all U.S. research on the southernmost continent. McMurdo is one of three year-round stations NSF maintains in Antarctica, the others being Amundsen-Scott, at the geographic South Pole, and Palmer, on the Antarctic Peninsula. The National Science Foundation and NPOESS are jointly collaborating on the development of McMurdo as one of the NPOESS weather downlink stations and intend to share the satellite service provided by Optus.

Optus has been working closely with Raytheon Company in the provision of the SafetyNet™ system which is a network linking 15 satellite antennas to the weather data centres. Data collected by the NPOESS satellites is capable of being downloaded to any of the receptor sites installed at key locations around the globe. Each of the sites, with the exception of McMurdo Station, is connected via a fibre cable network to the system data centres. The data collected in McMurdo will be transferred via the Optus D1 satellite to the fibre network in Sydney, Australia.

"We believe the D1 satellite coverage will make a real difference to the McMurdo Sound facility. Optus Satellite will be delivering a unique communications solution to meet our customers' specific requirements. It also further cements our position as the premium supplier of satellite services in our chosen markets," said Mr. Sheridan.

The NSF Black Island satellite earth station facility, located 20 km distant from McMurdo on a desolate, wind-swept island, will establish the link with Optus D1. In addition to supporting NPOESS data transmissions, NSF will more than triple its current data communications capability for the USAP, a significant benefit to the science research program, as well as to the health and safety of more than a thousand people.

Optus successfully launched the first of the D-series satellites, Optus D1, on an Arianespace launcher from French Guiana, South America in October 2006.

The Optus D2 satellite is planned to be launched in October 2007 by Arianespace from French Guiana and a third satellite, Optus D3, is planned to be delivered in 2009.

The Optus D series satellites are constructed by Orbital Sciences Corporation of the United States.

Media contacts:
Simone Bergholcs
Optus Corporate Affairs
Tel: (02) 8082 7846