Recently when collating the annual heritage update someone asked why we did not include the flight heritage created when the site was operated by Ferranti components, a precursor company to TRAK Microwave Limited?

Historically Dundee has listed its heritage as being those parts we could justifiably claim as being made by TRAK and that this claim be supported using the records we hold or have held. Our formal records go back as far as 1994 but what if there was something that pre-dated this? What might we find by digging deeper into the archives?.

C-Band Olympus Microstrip isolator
C-Band Olympus Microstrip isolator

It took surprisingly little time  to come up with some interesting results. It appears that  the first FMs supplied from the Dundee site were developed for, and delivered to, Hollandse Signaalapparaten (HSA), now part of the Thales Group, in late 1984. The devices supplied were Microstrip isolators which were designed to operate in assigned frequency ranges in C- and K-bands. These devices are similar to those we supply today (only the more recent designs are a fraction of the size) and were intended to be integrated into amplifiers. These amplifiers was supplied by HSA to Selenia  Spazio , now part of the Thales Alenia Space group, in Roma. In turn Selenia integrated the amplifier into a satellite beacon and delivered this equipment  to the satellite integrator, British Aerospace, for a payload originally called LSAT (Large SATellite) but which was later renamed OLYMPUS-1.

OLYMPUS-1 was a communications satellite built by British Aerospace for the European Space Agency and the first EU satellite to use the 20/30 GHz frequency band. At the time of its launch in July 1989, it was the largest civilian telecommunications satellite ever built and at a reported 850M USD certainly one of the most expensive.Unfortunately, Olympus was probably the unluckiest satellite ever launched suffering a series of problems including the loss of the ability to articulate the satellite’s solar arrays and independently an on-board gyro. If this were not enough OLYMPUS-1 was believed struck during the height of the Perseid meteor shower which caused the satellite to spin out of control to a degree that efforts made to stabilize it resulted in the expenditure of the majority of its fuel. OLYMPUS-1eventually exited service in August 1993 and was moved to a GEO disposal orbit and de-commissioned.

The illustration opposite is an extract of the one of the original paper ICD for the C-Band device.  The strangest thing we discovered? It seems the competition to Ferranti at that time was a certain US company based in Florida….a company called TRAK Microwave Corporation! What a small world!

As for the heritage data? We do not have records that state how many were supplied to HSA so have not to include these parts  in our heritage database.