The Liberal National Government welcomes the selection of Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, to provide maintenance and operational support for the deep space tracking station at New Norcia in Western Australia.
The New Norcia station, 130 kilometres north-east of Perth, provides tracking, communication and data download services to European Space Agency missions exploring our solar system, as well as missions of other international space agencies under resource-sharing agreements. It also provides critical tracking services for Ariane, Soyuz and Vega launchers lifting off from Europe’s Spaceport at Kourou, French Guiana.
The European Space Agency control centre in Germany will continue to remotely control its spacecraft and satellites via the New Norcia station and two other similar stations in Spain and Argentina.
Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews said that this was the first time that an Australian-owned organisation will support day-to-day operations at the ground station, demonstrating Australia’s strengths in contributing to global space activities.
“Since 1979, Australia and ESA have had treaties in place to enable European Space Agency ground stations on Australian soil to track spacecraft and interplanetary missions and Australia has unique view of the southern hemisphere sky that provides us with a natural advantage for viewing the Universe,” said Minister Andrews.
“The facility at New Norcia has been in operation since 2003 and now, for the first time, an Australian organisation will provide critical maintenance and operational support at the station.
“Through its management of NASA’s Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, as well as Australia’s leading radio astronomy facilities, CSIRO has rich experience operating large, complex infrastructure for spacecraft tracking and astronomy research.
“This follows the announcement earlier this week that Adelaide will be the location of the Australian Space Agency, and is a further demonstration that momentum is building for the local space industry.”
“The space industry plays an essential role in the lives of all Australians, from providing us with weather forecasts and telecommunications, to inspiring the next generation of students,” said Minister Andrews.