While many businesses were gravely impacted by COVID-19, the Centre for Appropriate Technology (CfAT) were building Australia’s first Aboriginal-owned commercial satellite ground station – tracking earth from space via a unique partnership with global satellite communications company Viasat Inc.
Built, project-managed and owned by Indigenous companies – CfAT and its subsidiaries Ekistica Ltd and CfAT Satellite Enterprises, as well as Ingerreke Commercial who laid the concrete foundations in December 2019. Officially launched on 1 July 2020, the facility forms part of a global network of ground stations operated by Viasat Inc called Real Time Earth.
IBA provided the funding to construct two state-of-the-art commercial satellite ground stations in Alice Springs. This new infrastructure has the potential to reduce the latency for high resolution earth observation imagery down from hours or days, to just minutes.
The result will be to enhance Australia’s capability in disaster management (such as cyclones and bushfires), environmental monitoring, border protection and search and rescue, as well as strategic uses such as monitoring the economic impacts of pandemics like COVID-19 from space.
CfAT CEO Peter Renehan said, ‘This facility brings together our mission of engagement and people, innovation and excellence – and puts Aboriginal people at the forefront of Australia’s growing space sector.’
‘We are very excited about the future of this technology which we know has the potential to benefit many of our communities, like our Indigenous rangers who look after land and sea country and can use high resolution imagery from space to do their jobs.