Australia and Europe collaborate to build new space dish

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Another international space project will be built in Western Australia to develop Australia’s capability in the sector.

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

The project comes as the federal government announced a further $387 million in WA’s Murchison region to build the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) low frequency antenna.

The international collaboration is expected to 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, which aims to boost 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,” he 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.

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