News New satellite dish puts Australia in prime position

Published:4 December 2023

Warren McDonald from Lockheed Martin Australia, Dr Martine Woolf from Geoscience Australia, Michael Cratt from Av-Comm and Robert Bell from the Uralla Shire Council cut the ribbon to SouthPAN’s first dedicated satellite dish in Uralla NSW.

A ceremony today at Uralla in regional New South Wales marked the completion of the construction of the first of four satellite dishes being delivered under the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN) program. It marks a major milestone towards reliable, accurate positioning services across Australia and New Zealand.

SouthPAN is a joint initiative between Geoscience Australia and Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand. The satellite dish construction is a partnership with Lockheed Martin Australia and AvComm.

SouthPAN will:

  • Improve positioning accuracy from five to ten metres down to as little as ten centimetres;
  • Generate an estimated AU$6.2 billion in economic benefits for Australia over 30 years; and
  • Bring widespread benefits across agriculture, utilities, construction, resources, and many other industries, improving safety and efficiency in aviation, maritime and road transport.

The new satellite dish is 11 metres in diameter and is co-located with a ground control centre. Its signals will be re-transmitted from a satellite in geostationary Earth orbit to deliver reliable, accurate positioning services. A time lapse video showing construction of the brand-new satellite dish has been released to coincide with its official opening.

Dr Martine Woolf, Geoscience Australia’s Branch Head for the Positioning Australia program said today’s official opening represented a significant milestone for SouthPAN.

“We’ve come to rely on precise positioning - whether it’s using a map on your smart phone or farmers using SouthPAN to ensure seeds are sown precisely and for fertiliser and herbicides to be applied with less wastage,” Dr Woolf said.

“That’s why improving the accuracy of our positioning services down to as little as ten centimetres is a game changer – and today’s official opening of this satellite dish brings us one step closer to achieving that.

“SouthPAN early Open Services are available now using existing infrastructure; however, this satellite dish is the first Australian satellite infrastructure dedicated to SouthPAN. It provides important resilience to the SouthPAN system and ensures our commitment to industry with ongoing reliable positioning services.”

Warren McDonald, Chief Executive Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand welcomed the construction milestone.

“Under the leadership of Geoscience Australia and Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand, Lockheed Martin Australia, with our industry partner Av-Comm, are proud to deliver the successful installation of SouthPAN’s first satellite dish at our Telemetry Tracking and Command Station in Uralla, New South Wales,” Mr McDonald said.

“SouthPAN reflects the Australian and New Zealand governments’ shared commitment to improved positioning services. Our skilled local technical team will play a pivotal role in leveraging SouthPAN’s capabilities, benefiting various sectors such as aviation, agriculture, transport, mining, and other industries.”

Michael Cratt, Managing Director Av-Comm said as a family-owned Australian business, Av-Comm is proud to be demonstrating the strength of our sovereign capabilities.

“We are excited to be working on this important space infrastructure project because it is the catalyst for innovation and growth in so many downstream industries that rely on precision navigation and timing”.

“The construction of this satellite dish is just one way Geoscience Australia is delivering on its commitment to the adoption and development of positioning technology in Australia, as well as enhancing the accuracy and reliability of positioning. We are enabling innovative technologies across a range of industries, accelerating economic growth,” Dr Woolf said.