The Defence Estate and Infrastructure Group (E&IG) have handed over ownership of the new Space Surveillance Telescope Building to the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG).
The completed building and supporting facilities, located in Exmouth, WA, are an important milestone in Project Air 3029 Phase 2. The Space Telescope will be housed in the new building and its installation is on track to meet Initial Operating Capability (IOC) in 2021.
Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies said the telescope would increase the capacity to detect and track objects in space in order to manage threats, including space debris, and predict and avoid potential collisions.
“These $97.2 million facilities are the first of their type built for the ADF and represent a significant achievement by Defence and Australian industry to enable the capability to be realised,” AIRMSHL Davies said.
“Air Force is working with Australian industry and educational institutions to build domestic space surveillance capability for Australia.”
The construction of the 270 ton rotating dome enclosure and supporting facilities is a significant achievement for Australian industry. The design and manufacture of the track and bogie mechanisms that allow the dome to rotate was undertaken by Hofmann Engineering, a Perth based contractor. The dome allows full 360 degree viewing of the night sky.
The facilities were constructed by a combined team of contractors, including project lead Aurecon and local business and prime contractor Sitzler Construction.
Investments in space situational awareness are picking up, particularly through the Defence Innovation Hub. Silentium Defence was last year awarded a contract to develop a unique ‘wide-field-of-view’ space surveillance technology that will allow Australia to independently track and monitor objects in orbit around Earth.
The team will use the super-sensitive Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) radio telescope to record radio waves bouncing off objects in Earth’s orbit. These objects can be 1000km away and travelling at up to 8km per second.
The signals recorded by the telescope are then processed to create a passive radar.