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Sky Muster II delay: NBN needs less wind beneath its wings


I can sympathise with satellite woes after having three flights cancelled yesterday.

Communications satellite launches are typically planned years in advance, but one factor that's hard to predict that far in advance is the weather.

And so it was that the planned launch of Sky Muster II, the satellite that will help bring the National Broadband Network (NBN) to rural areas, had to be delayed this morning at the last minute.

"At 5:00 a.m. this morning AEDT, the launch of Australia’s second broadband satellite was delayed," a brief note from nbn read. "The launch was delayed due to weather conditions, in particular the high altitude wind direction. The launch of the satellite will be re-scheduled to take place in the next 48 hours."

I was all too aware that wind was a big problem yesterday, because I spent the entire afternoon and evening trying unsuccessfully to catch a flight from Melbourne to Sydney.

Qantas cancelled my original flight booking. Then it cancelled my replacement flight. Then it cancelled the replacement flight for my replacement flight, and I ended up having to stay the night in Melbourne at Qantas' expense. All of this was blamed on high wind levels.

I understand all too well that bad weather can mess up flight schedules in the worst way. I spent a week in the UK during the "ash cloud" frenzy of 2010 because of that. I spent 24 hours flying from France to the UK because of similar issues. No airline can run the sky. But there's still a tiny bit of me that wonders why, when there's a flight to Sydney as often as every 15 minutes on weekdays and most of them did eventually take off, I kept drawing the short straw.

If Sky Muster II successfully launches in the next few days, customers are unlikely to see significant delays; services using the satellite aren't expected to launch before April next year. Meanwhile, I'm crossing my fingers that my flight today doesn't suffer the same fate.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears Monday through Friday on

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