New dish brings SouthPAN 10cm capability closer

By on 1 December, 2023
Scenes from the construction of the SouthPAN dish at Uralla in northern NSW. Courtesy Lockheed Martin Australia.

Installation of the inaugural dedicated satellite dish for the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN) has been completed at Uralla in northern New South Wales.

The work was undertaken by Lockheed Martin Australia together with industry partner Av-Comm.

SouthPAN is a collaboration between Geoscience Australia and Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand to deliver Satellite-Based Augmentation System services to Australia, New Zealand and their maritime regions.

Lockheed Martin Australia was awarded a $1.18 billion contract In September 2022 to enhance precise positioning within the SouthPAN service areas. In December of that year, the company chose New South Wales communications specialist Av-Comm to establish a network of ground station uplink facilities for SouthPAN.

“The SouthPAN project is a key example of the collaboration necessary to advance Australia’s industrial positioning capability,” said Lockheed Martin Australia’s Regional Director for Space, David Ball.

“By working together with Av-Comm on this critical infrastructure, we’re enhancing our nation’s technological capabilities while ensuring that Australia plays a pivotal role in the global economy.”

Dignitaries at the ribbon cutting ceremony. Courtesy Lockheed Martin Australia.

Completion of the first 11-metre satellite dish, along with a control centre and dual radio frequency uplinks, brings closer the goal of being able to provide satellite-based positioning with an accuracy down to 10 centimetres.

“We’ve come to rely on precise positioning — whether it’s using a map on your smart phone or farmers using SouthPAN to ensure seeds are sown precisely and for fertiliser and herbicides to be applied with less wastage,” said Dr Martine Woolf, Geoscience Australia’s Branch Head for the Positioning Australia program.

“That’s why improving the accuracy of our positioning services down to as little as ten centimetres is a game changer — and today’s official opening of this satellite dish brings us one step closer to achieving that.

“SouthPAN early Open Services are available now using existing infrastructure; however, this satellite dish is the first Australian satellite infrastructure dedicated to SouthPAN. It provides important resilience to the SouthPAN system and ensures our commitment to industry with ongoing reliable positioning services,” she added.

“Partnering with Lockheed Martin Australia to establish SouthPAN’s first dedicated infrastructure has been a privilege,” said Michael Cratt, Av-Comm’s Managing Director.

“As a family-run Australian company, we’re not only contributing to the nation’s space sector but hopefully sparking innovation across industries dependent on precise positioning. It’s a step forward for Australian technology on the global stage”.

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