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Australia’s space surveillance telescope captures first images

Space surveillance telescope
Photo: Australian defense ministry

Australia’s space surveillance telescope has captured first images in remote Western Australia, in another milestone ahead of its full operational capability that is scheduled for 2022.

The first pictures from the joint Australia-United States space facility at Exmouth on Western Australia’s Coral Coast follows its reassembly in a purpose-built facility, complete with a 270-ton rotating dome.

Australian defense minister Linda Reynolds said the telescope is a game changer for the defense.

“This world-leading, 360-degree telescope will enable defense to better track and identify objects and threats in space including space debris, as well as predict and avoid potential collisions,” minister Reynolds said.

“It will become an important part of the global space surveillance network, which provides space domain awareness to both Australia and the United States.”

The telescope was initially developed in the United States for scientific research. Through a partnership between the Royal Australian Air Force and the United States Space Force, it has since been relocated to Exmouth, Western Australia.

“Our alliance with the United States is at the core of Australia’s security and defence planning, and provides Australia access to advanced technology and information,” Minister Reynolds said.

“In an increasingly complex security environment, closer Australian-US defense cooperation will strengthen our respective capability advantages.”

Defense industry minister Melissa Price added that Sitzler Construction built the 2-megawatt central power station for the space surveillance telescope with support from local and national industry suppliers.

“Constructing a purpose-built facility and all of the accompanying infrastructure for such an important capability in a remote part of Australia is an outstanding achievement,” Minister Price said.

The space surveillance telescope is now set to undergo extensive testing, and is expected to be operational in 2022.