New satellite ground station is fully indigenous built and owned

Indigenous Business Australia has built a satellite ground station at Alice Springs – the first development of its kind on aboriginal owned land.

The ground station, fully built, project-managed and owned by indigenous companies, will transform Australia’s capability in earth observation.

The new infrastructure has the potential to reduce the latency for high resolution earth observation imagery down from hours or days, to just minutes.

The result will be to enhance Australia’s capability in disaster management of cyclones and bushfires, environmental monitoring, and border protection and search and rescue,.

It also has strategic uses such as monitoring the economic impacts of pandemics like COVID-19 from space.

Indigenous enterprises involved in the project were the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT) and its subsidiaries Ekistica Ltd and CfAT Satellite Enterprises, as well as Ingerreke Commercial who laid the concrete foundations.

CfAT CEO Peter Renehan said the facility put Aboriginal people at the forefront of Australia’s growing space sector.

Renehan said: “While many have been locked down from COVID-19, our build has been full speed ahead with an Aboriginal-owned project management team and support crew that assembled the antennas.

“CfAT have also been awarded the facilities maintenance contract by Viasat, which will generate on-going Indigenous employment and training opportunities for our community.”

There is limited supply of suitable earth observation ground stations in Australia.

Renehan said Alice Springs was strategically located and could downlink imagery across the whole of Australia’s land and waters.

IBA Chairperson Eddie Fry said the development was the first of its kind development on Aboriginal land that gives the community both economic and social returns.

“The technology has many commercial applications, such as for remote asset management, agriculture, carbon abatement, insurance, finance, and mining.

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

Picture: Ekistica Ltd

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