news
3 mins read 12 Mar 2020

Geotracker Addition for Alice Springs Indigenous Company

Indigenous-controlled NT company collaborating with European aerospace company to enhance satellite tracking facility in Alice Springs.

Wide angle shot showing building on the left with a radio telescope dish antenna on the right. The dish is covered in Aboriginal artwork.
Existing satellite tracking infrastructure. Credit: Dylan Anderson/ABC

The Northern Territory (NT) space industry is heating up, with the enterprise-scale European aerospace company, ArianeGroup announcing that it plans to work with an Indigenous-controlled company in central Australia to build a satellite tracking station known as GeoTracker, 10km south of the Alice Springs CBD.

The Indigenous company, known as the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT), is expected to increase local Indigenous employment through the development of the site, installation of equipment and software capabilities, with addition to ongoing facility management and maintenance.

“Today’s announcement from CfAT and the ArianeGroup shows the Territory is open for business, with government ready to back quality projects that create jobs,” said NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner

The location of Alice Springs was selected due to its high portion of clear skies, allowing the optical telescopes to be installed at the CfAT facility to track satellites.

“Today’s announcement illustrates Alice Springs has the capacity and capability to be one of the space and innovation hubs of the NT – which will support jobs and local business. Alice Springs is well known for enjoying more than 250 days per year without cloud, so this project occurring here, makes sense,” said

The majority of CfAT employees are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and the company will leverage this opportunity to develop local capability in technical construction and facility maintenance.

This is the second commercial satellite ground infrastructure project CfAT has been able to secure for their Alice Springs site.

Warehouse image of three half-dome sections sitting on pallets
The domes that will form part of the GeoTracker facility. Credit: Katrina Beavan/ABC

The GeoTracker will consist of multiple instruments that will be 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.

“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. CfAT is excited to show leadership in this area that the whole community can benefit from, and we are very proud to be working closely with the ArianeGroup on this project,” said CfAT’s CEO Peter Renehan.

NT space sector is rapidly growing with Equatorial Launch Australia recently starting construction on the Arnhem Space Centre, with the first launch from the facility anticipated this year.

Images from this article were sourced from ABC.