Home' Army News : September 26th 2013 Contents Army September 26, 2013
Cpl Nick Wiseman
AUSTRALIA will play a greater
role in space surveillance with the
relocation of a US radar to Exmouth
in WA, which will be able to track
items in orbit around the earth.
It is the first radar of its kind in
the southern hemisphere and will be
jointly operated by the Air Force and
the US, filling a gap in a world-wide
space surveillance network.
Defence Space Coordinating
Office Director Gp-Capt Colin
Thomson said instead of expecting
allies to protect space-based capabili-
ties on our behalf, the ADF would
now be a contributor.
“There has been a movement in the
international community to seek input
from other nations rather than the US
doing it all,” Gp-Capt Thomson said.
A US National Guard unit has
started work on the installation at
Exmouth and it is scheduled to be up
and running in 2016.
Once operational, Air Force mem-
bers from 1 Radar Surveillance Unit,
based at RAAF Base Edinburgh, will
operate the radar and be able to track
items in orbit around the earth.
Gp-Capt Thomson said the job
of tracking these items was known
as “catalogue maintenance” and was
part of the space situational awareness
“We know of many objects out in
space including debris and old satel-
lites,” he said.
“These objects need to be reac-
quired periodically and recalibrated
as after time their orbit becomes less
“Knowing where these items are
means we can avoid collisions with
Debris in space is an increasing
problem, along with space weather
and, to some degree, deliberate actions
such as electronic jamming.
These actions can cause problems
with many of the services ADF mem-
bers take for granted in their jobs,
such as operating GPS-based devices
and any other satellite-based systems.
Gp-Capt Thomson said most peo-
ple just assumed these devices and
systems were always going to be
“It's something that is invisible and
people don’t think about, but a lot of
work behind the scenes is required to
operate satellites safely,” he said.
The UN has declared October 4-10
as World Space Week, which gives
nations around the world a chance
to celebrate the “contributions of
space science and technology to the
Australia joins space tracking effort
betterment of the human condition”.
Head of Capability Development
Group Maj-Gen John Caligari said the
week provided a useful checkpoint to
reflect on the achievements that had
continued to provide ADF warfight-
ers with sustainable space-based and
“Defence capabilities, whether
employed in Australian or coalition
military operations, have become criti-
cally dependant on space and space-
based systems,” Maj-Gen Caligari
“This dependency makes both the
space environment and assured access
to space systems important.
“The new capability investments
will establish the space surveillance
radar and telescope in Exmouth that
will be jointly operated as Australian-
US capabilities in the global Space
Air Force members have been
working at Colorado Springs in the US
for several years, where they are get-
ting hands-on experience operating in
the realms of space.
Cpl Tristan Apperley had been
working with 460 Operational Support
Squadron in the US since June 2011
and said it gave him the opportunity to
work with technology not available in
“It’s been great to get access to all
the US systems,” Cpl Apperley said.
“This is the way of the future and
we need to be getting more involved at
the ground level.
“Space is only getting bigger, in the
way of Defence.”
Currently a mission crew chief
instructor, he has the responsibility of
instructing others before they go on
to the 24-hour operations floor at 460
Operational Support Squadron.
The other three members current-
ly posted to the US in similar space-
related roles include Flt-Lt Mark
Wilson, Sgt Dan Hickey and Cpl Ryan
Gp-Capt Thomson said it was
important that people understood their
dependence on, and the vulnerability
of, space and its data.
“We’re about assuring your mission
is always there and will not be affected
by those other space factors,” he said.
“Australia has now crossed that
line from being just a user of the data
to actually being part of the commu-
nity that takes care and assures the
develop a space
a radar is
WA to join
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