Canberra to improve facilities for US-Australian Space Surveillance Telescope

by Gabriel Dominguez

The Australian government announced on 13 July that it will invest AUD87 million (USD60.7 million) towards improving facilities at the Naval Communication Station Harold E Holt near Exmouth, in Western Australia, where the joint US-Australian Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) is located

During a visit to the station that same day Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the allocated funds, which are part of the government’s broader plans to invest AUD7 billion into the Department of Defence’s (DoD’s) space capabilities over the next decade, will be used to build a new mirror recoating facility and sustain the SST through to the middle of 2025.

“This world-leading, 360° telescope enables [the Department of] 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,” explained the minister.

The Space Surveillance Telescope is seen here at the joint Australian-US space facility near Exmouth on Western Australia’s Coral Coast.  (Commonwealth of Australia 2020)

The Space Surveillance Telescope is seen here at the joint Australian-US space facility near Exmouth on Western Australia’s Coral Coast. (Commonwealth of Australia 2020)

The announcement came after the DoD revealed on 24 April that the SST had captured its first images of space, marking “a significant milestone for the [Department of] Defence space project”.

Reynolds had said at the time that the SST, which is now undergoing extensive testing before officially entering service in 2022, will become “an important part of the global Space Surveillance Network [SSN]”, providing space domain awareness for the United States, Australia, and their key allies.

The US-developed telescope had been relocated from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico to Exmouth on Western Australia’s Coral Coast through a partnership between the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and the United States Space Force (USSF).

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The Australian government announced on 13 July that it will invest AUD87 million (USD60.7 million) t...

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