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Australia's first space park launched

WA set to track space stations Swedish style

NASA  triplet satellite picture

Australia’s only dedicated satellite park, SSC Space Australia, is now open for business and is currently in advanced negotiations with two international space agencies from Europe and Asia to use the new West Australian (WA) facility.

The park is owned and financed by its parent, Swedish Space Corporation, which selected WA for the facility as part of its international expansion strategy due to its geographically critical coverage area for global satellite tracking.

The satellite park secured its first customer in October with China Satellite Launch & Tracking Control General ( CLTC) which is part of the ambitious Chinese space programme.

CLTC runs China's launch sites and tracks and controls its spacecraft, and is part of the army's General Armaments Department.

SSC has been providing the space station tracking component s for the first two Chinese space missions, according to SSC Australia President Brian Mann.

The Dongara East facility was used by SSC for supporting the docking between Shenzhou VIII and the Tiangong-1 experimental module.

Mann said that a total of AUD$12 million will be invested in the space park by its Swedish parent with strong demand for the remote facility coming from Asia, the US and Europe and two fresh contracts expected to be signed before the end of the year.

Mann added that Telstra has provided a $1.5 million dedicated fibre network for the facility and SSC Australia is currently preparing to invest in a redundancy network.

Last week Science and Innovation Minister John Day officially launched the new Western Australian Space Centre (WASC) stating that it was a core part of the State’s growing portfolio of advanced science and technology facilities.

“The WASC is an attractive site for the location of earth space tracking and communications facilities, with SSC Space Australia in discussions with several countries - including China, Japan, the US and several European countries - looking to locate facilities at the site,” he said.

He added that WA has long been a prime site for space-related facilities, due to geographical location, vast radio-quiet zones, strong technical expertise and well-developed defence, science and trade relationships. “The Mid-West region is already a hotspot for innovation in radio astronomy, with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) establishing a Mid West Radio Quiet Zone to protect the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory,” he added. The WASC is part of an emerging eco system of space, satellite and technology industries supporting facilities located in WA.

Horizon Power and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation are supporting remotely operated sites. The government added that high performance computing facilities would also be established in Perth to support the big data processing requirements of the industry.

Day also pitched the new facility as a sweetener for Australia’s bid to secure the SKA contract.®

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