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Australia and Europe collaborate to build new space dish

3 May 2021

Western Australia continues to benefit from the Morrison Government’s efforts to develop Australia’s space sector, with another major international project to be built in the State.

The European Space Agency announced on Friday that it will collaborate with the Australian Space Agency on construction of a $70 million deep space antenna at New Norcia, 140km north of Perth.

The project comes hot on the heels of the Morrison Government’s announcement it would invest a further $387 million in WA’s Murchison region to build the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) low frequency antenna – an international collaboration that will create hundreds of high-paid jobs for WA workers.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter said space was one of the six key industry sectors targeted by the Government’s Modern Manufacturing Strategy (MMS), which aims to boost our high-tech manufacturing capabilities and create sustainable and high-paying jobs for Australian workers.

“The European Space Agency’s decision to build the antenna – its second at New Norcia – is fantastic news for WA, and a sign of the increasingly close relationship between our respective space agencies,” Minister Porter said.

“The project will also benefit local companies, who will have a chance to get involved in its construction and ongoing maintenance.”

The dish will play a crucial role in supporting ESA’s deep space missions, working in concert with other antennas based in Argentina and Spain to provide uninterrupted communications with spacecraft exploring the galaxy, including missions to Mars.

The new model will feature cutting edge deep space communication technology, including a cryogenically cooled ‘antenna feed’ which can increase data return by up to 40 per cent. It is expected to begin operating in 2024.