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Revolutionising Space Communication Tech in Western Australia

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The University of Western Australia (UWA) has secured funding from the Western Australian Government and industry partners to further develop its state-of-the-art space communication technology for commercial use.

Under the Moon to Mars Demonstrator Mission program, the Australian Space Agency (ASA) has pledged AU$4.4 million to support UWA’s TeraNet Project with a total budget of AU$6.5 million. This initiative aims to establish a network of commercial optical communications ground stations in Western Australia.

The initiative will revolutionise data transfer between Earth and satellites or spacecraft by utilizing high-speed lasers for communication. This new technology offers a significant advancement, being 1,000 times faster and more secure compared to the current radio communications methods in use.

The pioneering network, the first of its kind in Australia, will consist of two permanent ground stations situated at UWA’s Crawley campus and Mingenew, along with a mobile station initially stationed at the European Space Agency’s New Norcia Deep Space Ground Station. To execute the TeraNet project, UWA will partner with Thales Australia and Goonhilly Australia.

By 2030, the global satellite communications market is expected to reach a substantial value of US$159.6 billion. The implementation of UWA’s TeraNet Project places Western Australia in a favourable position to tap into this market, leading to economic diversification and the generation of new, highly skilled employment opportunities in the region.

In addition to enhancing critical defence capabilities through the provision of secure and jam-proof GPS systems, the satellites deployed through the TeraNet Project will also enable Western Australia to take a leading role in disaster management.

These satellites will offer advanced capabilities for capturing and delivering real-time satellite imagery, empowering authorities with valuable information for efficient and effective disaster response and management.

The Minister for Innovation and the Digital Economy, Science, Minister Assisting State and Industry Development, Jobs and Trade expressed enthusiasm regarding the State Government’s co-investment and the subsequent realisation of this exciting project in Western Australia.

The unique geography and climate of WA make it an ideal location for hosting ground stations, and initiatives like this position the state to become a global leader in commercial laser satellite communications and support for space missions.

The government is dedicated to advancing the state’s space sector, which will not only drive progress in other industries but also contribute to economic diversification and the creation of highly skilled employment opportunities.

With the implementation of the groundbreaking TeraNet Project, Western Australia is poised to revolutionise space communication technology. Through advanced laser-based systems, the state aims to capture a significant share of the global satellite communications market, diversify its economy, and create highly skilled jobs.

Additionally, the project’s impact extends to critical defence capabilities and disaster management, positioning Western Australia as a frontrunner in the field of space technology and innovation.

The Australian Government has identified 7 national civil space priority areas, each with a roadmap that guides industry, research, and government, shapes the future workforce, aligns the space sector, and advances the Australian space industry over the next decade.

Satellite communications play a crucial role in enabling communication over vast distances, challenging terrains, and remote areas. They facilitate the transmission of information across land, sea, sky, and even space.

To ensure the growth and sustainability of the Australian space sector, the Australian Space Agency has developed the Communications Technologies and Services Roadmap. This roadmap outlines a strategic plan for the next 10 years, providing direction to support the industry and secure Australia’s future in the space sector.

The advanced communications roadmap serves the following purposes: it informs and guides the pursuit of opportunities, identifies essential activities to be undertaken, and determines the necessary supporting conditions for success.

By following this roadmap, Australia can strategically position itself to leverage advancements in communications technologies and services, fostering innovation and driving the growth of its space industry.

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