Exmouth telescope facility takes next step

Shannon BeattiePilbara News
The Space Surveillance Telescope Building.
Camera IconThe Space Surveillance Telescope Building. Credit: Sitzler Pty Ltd

Exmouth is set to be the centre of space surveillance in Australia in less than two years, with construction of a building due to house a new telescope completed last week.

Construction of the Space Surveillance Telescope Building and support facilities was finished on Friday and preparations are now under way for the telescope to be installed, calibrated, tested and evaluated.

Its installation is on track to meet initial operating capability in 2021.

Department of Defence Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies said the telescope would increase the capacity to detect and track objects in space to manage threats, including space debris, and predict and avoid potential collisions.

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“These $97.2 million facilities are the first of their type built for the Australian Defence Force and represent a significant achievement by Defence and Australian industry to enable the capability to be realised,” he said.

Shire of Exmouth chief executive Cameron Woods said the space telescope project underlined the strategic importance of the North West Cape to global defence capabilities.

“It’s time for a whole-of-government approach to leveraging further investment opportunities based on the region’s strategic geographic advantages,” he said.

“The Shire has been working hard behind the scenes to secure support for a study that looks at the current and future value of this region based on our natural environment and strategic advantage for defence infrastructure.”

The construction of the building, including its 270 tonne rotating dome enclosure and supporting facilities, is a significant achievement for Australian industry.

The design of the track and bogie mechanisms allow the dome to rotate which gives full 360 degree viewing of the night sky.

Exmouth was selected as the site for the telescope as it provides clear and dark sky conditions with low light pollution.

The project has been a big boost to employment in the town, with more than 35 local businesses engaged and some 147 residents having worked on-site.

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