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US, Australia Announce Operational Capability of Space Surveillance Telescope

The US Space Force and the Australian Department of Defence have announced the initial operational capability of the Space Surveillance Telescope.

The achievement follows extensive tests and assessments since 2020 when the telescope was relocated from New Mexico to Australia.

When fully operational, the US and Australia will obtain improved space domain awareness by providing “ground-based, broad-area search, detection and tracking of faint objects in deep space.”

Space Surveillance Telescope in operation
Space Surveillance Telescope in operation. Photo: Cpl. David Cotton/Australian Ministry of Defence

“In an increasingly contested and congested space environment, The Space Surveillance Telescope will provide enhanced awareness of the space domain and contribute to greater Alliance cooperation,” Australian Defence Space Commander Air-Vice Marshal Cath Roberts said.

”The bespoke facilities and supporting infrastructure are as much of a milestone as the telescope itself and represent a significant achievement by Defence and Australian industry.”

Relocation From US to Australia

Announced in 2012, the transfer supports the Australia-US Ministerial Consultations’ efforts to bolster the telescope network’s ability to track space materials and provide early warnings for potential collisions.

In 2020, the Space Surveillance Telescope captured its first images from its new observatory site in Harold E. Holt Communication Station in Exmouth, Western Australia.

The instrument was developed by the US Defense Advanced Research Project Agency and is currently operated by the Royal Australian Air Force.

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