Australia’s first indigenous Earth Ground station to be built in Alice Springs

earth ground station

Congratulations to the Centre for Appropriate Technology on their partnership with Viasat

Global communications company Viasat Inc. has partnered with Aboriginal not-for-profit science and technology company Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT) to launch a Real-Time Earth (RTE) facility in Alice Springs.

Indigenous Business Australia (IBA), will fund this project, which will see Australia’s first earth ground station built and owned by CfAT, through its wholly owned commercial subsidiary CfAT Satellite Enterprises Pty Ltd.

This multi-million dollar investment in Alice Springs will enable Central Australia to be a key player in the burgeoning global satellite and space industry, and Indigenous Australians to be leading participants in the sector. The investment is also strongly aligned with the priorities for the Australian Space Agency which is seeking to increase opportunities within Australia’s space industry and develop world-leading core satellite infrastructure.

The facility will be used to track the next generation of low earth orbiting satellites for earth observation used for scientific research, environmental monitoring, and commercial applications.

Dr. Steve Rogers, CEO of CfAT Ltd said, “Working with Viasat and IBA on the development of the RTE facility demonstrates the capacity of CfAT to continue to contribute positively to technology and critical space advancements in outback Australia. The development will provide a positive contribution to the local economy through contract opportunities for local businesses during the facility construction phase, and ongoing employment opportunities for local Aboriginal people once operational – as the CfAT facilities management team will be providing on-going site maintenance.”

“IBA’s investment in Viasat’s RTE facility alongside our Indigenous partner, CfAT, is a light-house project that shows the world that Aboriginal people can be at the forefront of new technology industries in Australia,” said Rajiv Viswanathan, CEO of IBA.

John Williams, vice president of Real-Time Earth at Viasat added, “Partnering with CfAT and IBA in Australia will enable us to build a state-of-the-art RTE ground station that will offer multiple benefits both locally and globally, from bringing new jobs and opportunities to the region to advancing how remote sensing data is delivered around the world. We are revolutionizing data delivery for LEO satellites, bringing affordability and lower latency communications to earth observation and remote sensing applications. The Alice Springs community will be a big part in our development and execution of these advancements.”

Minister for Indigenous Australians Ken Wyatt AM said developments such as this showcased how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people could continue leading roles in our nation’s innovation, as they have done for more than 60,000 years.

Viasat’s RTE satellite ground station facility will be located in CfAT’s Heath Road site in Alice Springs, Australia. It will consist of two Viasat full-motion antenna systems and associated infrastructure. The new ground station form part of the Viasat RTE network and will complement other Viasat RTE sites in North America, South America and Europe. The location in Alice Springs is an optimal environment for this type of technology due to the large number of days that are cloud-free, limited radio interference, and access to fibre network on the grounds.

CfAT is an Aboriginal company, with 50% Aboriginal workforce, established in the 1980’s, that operates across regional and remote Australia delivering infrastructure and technology solutions mostly to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, providing service and infrastructure platforms that allow people to maintain their relationship with country. The company’s approach is driven by the view that the successful delivery of services and the technologies and infrastructure used to achieve them will be different to the way things are done in urban Australia. This has shaped our success and led to the development of highly innovative new technologies.

IBA is a commercially focused Australian Government organisation. Economic independence for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples is at the heart of what they do. Their programs assist Indigenous Australiana to buy their own homes, be successful in business, and invest in commercial ventures that provide strong financial returns.

Viasat is a global communications company that believes everyone and everything in the world can be connected. For more than 30 years, Viasat has helped shape how consumers, businesses, governments and militaries around the world communicate. Today, the Company is developing the ultimate global communications network to power high-quality, secure, affordable, fast connections to impact people’s lives anywhere they are – on the ground, in the air or at sea.