The country’s first commercial low earth orbit satellite tracking antenna has been opened at Southland’s Awarua Satellite Ground Station.
Owned by Great South and dubbed Great South - 1, the symbol of the agency’s commitment to New Zealand’s future space endeavours was acknowledged by Research, Science and Innovation Minister Megan Woods at the site today.
The station itself was the only satellite station in the country, and provided real-time communication with satellites for customers in New Zealand and around the world.
Great South Engineering and Ground Segment Station Manager Robin McNeill said with the new antenna, the Awarua facility would likely generate approximately $1 million in revenue for Great South.
"High performance antennas such as this provide a way for satellite owners to get their data down to Earth or command their spacecraft.
"It is no surprise then that the antenna is already heavily booked by overseas space operators."
The antenna was capable of supporting New Zealand’s upcoming MethaneSAT satellite, a state-of-the-art satellite designed to detect global methane emissions, and used advanced control systems which have been developed by researchers at the University of Canterbury.
The nearby ‘Great South - A’ antenna would support the University of Auckland’s APSS-1 satellite scheduled on an upcoming Rocket Lab launch.
Along with celebrating the opening of the antenna, McNeill announced that Great South was building a new ground station facility in Northland.
"While our customers love our world-class facility here in Southland, a second station in the far North means we will be able to communicate with spacecraft 1,200 kilometres further into the Pacific Ocean — something that is important for some satellite uses."
Great South had serviced the space industry from Awarua, halfway between Invercargill and Bluff, since 2008 when it built the ground station facility to support the European Space Agency’s resupply missions to the International Space Station.
The Regional Economic Development agency worked with most of the leading names in the small-satellite industry.
Three new antennas for overseas customers were currently under construction, and contracts for further antennas to be installed next year were being negotiated.
Quelle: Otago Daily Times