The government will invest $87 million towards improving facilities at the joint US-Australian Space Surveillance Telescope, Naval Communications Station Harold E. Holt in Exmouth, on the tip of the North West Cape in WA.
During a visit to the facility in Exmouth, Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the significant investment will be used to build a new mirror recoating facility.
“As recently announced in the Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan, the Government is significantly increasing investment in Defence’s space capabilities with $7 billion being invested over the next decade,” Minister Reynolds said. “This world-leading, 360-degree telescope enables Defence to better track and identify objects and threats in space including space debris, as well as predict and avoid potential collisions.
“The telescope uses three large mirrors that periodically require a new coat of aluminium to maintain performance. This investment will be used to build a new mirror recoating facility and sustain the telescope through to the middle of 2025.”
Minister for Defence Industry and the local Federal Member for Durack Melissa Price said Defence would provide opportunities to grow the Australian space industry through its Space Domain Awareness project.
“Space is a truly global endeavour, and Australia is now looking to make a strong contribution to space safety and security using home-grown technologies and systems,” Minister Price said.
After capturing its first images of space in April 2020, the telescope will now undergo extensive testing, and is expected to be fully operational in 2022.