An agreement between a European aerospace company and an Indigenous-controlled company based in Central Australia is cementing the NT’s position in the trillion-dollar global space industry.
European space launch company, ArianeGroup, has announced that the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT), located south of Alice Springs, will host their GEOTracker station.
The GeoTracker will consist of multiple instruments encased in a three-metre tall clamshell observatory dome. The structure will complement the existing Geoscience Australia satellite ground station and the recently announced Real Time Earth satellite ground station - a commercial venture between Viasat and CfAT Satellite Enterprises.
Alice Springs is perfectly positioned to provide the clear skies required to operate ArianeGroup technology, which will automatically track satellites using an optical telescope.
The Territory Government reportedly facilitated the commercial connection.
Currently, 23 local jobs are supported through CfAT, with this project further supporting these and future roles through developing the site, procuring the observatory dome, and maintenance activities.
“Attracting innovative projects to the Territory is just one way we are making sure there is more local investment and local jobs,” NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said. “This announcement from CfAT and the ArianeGroup shows the Territory is open for business.”
The majority of CfAT employees are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, and the company says it will leverage this opportunity to develop local capability in technical construction and facility maintenance.
“These strategic opportunities need to be embraced by Aboriginal businesses such as CfAT, and goes to show innovative ways of developing projects that connect people across the world,” Peter Renehan, CEO of the Centre for Appropriate Technology, said.
“Alice Springs is well known for enjoying more than 250 days per year without cloud, so this project occurring here makes sense,” Member for Braitling Dale Wakefield said.
This is the second commercial satellite ground infrastructure project CfAT has been able to secure for their Alice Springs site.
The space industry is starting to take off in the Territory with Equatorial Launch Australia recently starting construction on the Arnhem Space Centre, with the first launch from the facility anticipated this year.