Indigenous satellite ground station is online

By on 8 July, 2020

The first Australian Indigenous-owned satellite ground station has gone live in Alice Springs.

The facility comprises two full-motion antenna systems and associated infrastructure for ViaSat’s Real Time Earth network, built and project-managed by Indigenous corporations on Indigenous-owned land — an Australian first.

The infrastructure was built and managed by the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT) and subsidiaries Ekistica Ltd and CfAT Satellite Enterprises, with concrete foundations laid by Ingerreke Commercial, with funding provided by Indigenous Business Australia (IBA).

CfAT CEO Peter Renehan said that the new ground stations will reduce latency from hours or days to just minutes for accessing high resolution Earth observation imagery.

“There is currently limited supply of suitable earth observation ground stations in Australia. Here in Alice Springs we are strategically located to take advantage of this fast-growing market — the site is so perfectly located that we will be able to downlink imagery across the whole of Australia’s land and waters,” he said.

“We are very excited about the future of this technology which we know has the potential to benefit many of our communities, like our Indigenous rangers who look after land and sea country and can use high resolution imagery from space to do their jobs,” he said.

CfAT has been awarded the facilities maintenance contract for the facility by Viasat, which will generate on-going Indigenous employment and training opportunities for the local community.

IBA Chairperson Eddie Fry said that the project will generate commercial returns for Indigenous Australians and create wider industry opportunities for the Northern Territory.

“Strongly aligned with the priorities for the Australian Space Agency, this investment puts CfAT on the map as a commercial technology innovation hub,” he said.

“This is just the beginning and we can see a bright future for CfAT who are well-positioned to become one of Australia’s leading participants in the satellite and space industry.”

Ken Wyatt AM MP, Minister for Indigenous Australians, said that the project demonstrates how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people could continue leading roles in Australian innovation.

“Indigenous Australians hold a powerful economic force through their connections with land, culture and community,” he said.

“This exciting project is a prime example of the power of country to help deliver commercial returns through technology, employment and career opportunities.”

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