The Foundations of DRTE
(F.T. Davies)

A Brief History of CRC
(Nelms, Hindson)

The Early Days
(John Keys)

CRC's Pioneers


Bits and Pieces


The Alouette Program
The ANIK B Projects
David Florida Laboratory
Defence Communications
Detection Systems
The DRTE Computer
Doppler Navigation
HF Radio Resarch
The ISIS Program
Janet - Meteor Burst Communications
Microwave Fuze
Mobile Radio Data Systems
Prince Albert Radar Lab.
Radar Research
Radio Propagation Studies
Radio Warfare
Search and Rescue Satellite
Solid State Devices
Sounding Rockets
Trail Radio


John Barry - Doppler Navigation
John Belrose - The Early Years
Bert Blevis - The Role of the Ionosphere and Satellite Communications in Canadian Development
Bert Blevis - The Implications of Satellite Technology for Television Broadcasting in Canada
Richard Cobbold - A Short Biography of Norman Moody
Peter Forsyth - the Janet Project
Del Hansen - The RPL Mobile Observatory
Del Hansen - The Prince Albert Radar Laboratory 1958-1963
LeRoy Nelms - DRTE and Canada's Leap into Space
Gerald Poaps' Scrapbook
Radio Research in the Early Years
John Wilson - RPL as I Recall It, 1951-1956



Annual Reports





The Prince Albert Radar Laboratory

The Prince Albert Radar
Photo CRC 65-11082

A satellite is any smaller object traveling around a larger one. This means that the moon is a satellite to the Earth. However, the term satellite often refers to a human-made spacecraft placed in space to orbit another body.

The first "communicatons satellite" was the moon. The USA started using the moon for communications trials in the early 1950's. Signals beamed towards the moon were reflected and received back on Earth. It was a very inefficient means of communication requiring high power and large antennas to produce a detectable system. In addition, communication was only possible while the moon was above the horizon.

DRTE staff participated in the trials starting in 1959 using a large radar station at the newly-built Prince Albert Radar Laboratory (PARL) in Saskatchewan. The first demonstration was given when Prime Minister John Diefenbaker inaugurated the station on June 6, 1959. Here are some photos of the inauguration. A pre-taped greeting* from President Eisenhower was transmitted from a station at Millstone Hill near Boston and received by the PARL station. Each station was equipped with a 26-m dish antenna. Diefenbaker used the occasion to announce that Canada would initiate its own satellite program. Here* is part of Mr. Diefenbaker's speech.

The history of PARL from its conception in 1958 up intil 1963 has been written by Del Hansen, and can be found here. Keith Bedal has provided a photo of the staff from the early days


On August 12, 1960, NASA launched Echo 1, a pioneering communications satellite. It was a 30-m balloon of aluminum-coated mylar orbiting at 1600 km. Like the moon, it was a simple passive reflector of radio waves. It was the first artificial satellite to support two-way voice communications.

DRTE used the Prince Albert station to participate in trials using Echo to communicate with the Millstone Hill station. High transmitting power and large antennas were required at each of the Earth stations. The system was not practical for commercial use and soon active satellites were developed that could receive a signal, amplify it and retransmit it to another Earth station. They are known as relay satellites. Nevertheless, the trials with the moon and Echo provided DRTE staff with important experience with satellite ground stations and satellite tracking. Here is a sound clip (172 kb)* of communications from Millstone Hill.


*Tape recordings of communications via the moon and Echo, preserved at the Canada Science and Technology Museum as artifact number 940017.5, were kindly provided by Dr. Randall C. Brooks.
National Museum of Science and Technology. Canada in Space: Destination Earth. Ottawa; NMST, 1993.
Jelly, D. Canada: 25 Years in Space. Ottawa; NMST, 1988.
NASA Web Page:

Prepared By

Doris Jelly, Friends of CRC

Text written by Doris Jelly
Page created on August 15, 1997 by Cynthia Boyko
Last updated on February 5, 2001 by Stu McCormick
Copyright © Friends of CRC, 1997