The University of South Australia (UniSA) with two Adelaide-based SMEs, VPG Innovation and SMR Australia,…
Newcastle-based LeoLabs Australia, along with local industry partner CEM Alliance and sub-contractors, have completed construction of the company’s sixth S-Band Space Domain Awareness (SDA) radar site near Collie in WA. The company’s West Australian Space Radar (WASR) site hosts LeoLabs’ ninth and tenth space radars, adding significant capacity to its growing radar surveillance of Low Earth Orbit (LEO).
Site work on WASR began in April 2022 with radar construction and fit out completed in mid-November. Operational testing will be conducted over the next few weeks as the two radars are integrated into LeoLabs’ global network and the company says the WASR should be fully operational by the end of the year.
“The WASR is another massive, visible step forward in LeoLabs’ long-term investment in Australia — which started last year when we hired a world-class team led by retired Air Commodore Terry van Haren,” said Dan Ceperley, CEO and co-founder of LeoLabs. “The WASR and LeoLabs Australia team are now leading our business development efforts in Asia to support the growth of the Australian and Asian space industries.”
These innovative space radars located in the southwest of Australia will add critical surveillance capability for the Southern Hemisphere. The WASR will team up with its cousin, LeoLabs Kiwi Space Radar in the South Island of New Zealand, to increase the revisit rate and accuracy of tracking resident space objects in LEO in the heart of the Indo Pacific. The two S-Band active radar sites will also increase LeoLabs capacity to discover new objects, including lethal, small debris that are currently non-trackable.
The WASR milestone follows the completion of the company’s fifth site in the Azores, which became operational in August 2022.
“It is impressive to see the speed and development of this strategic radar build in WA,” said James Brown, CEO of the Space Industry Association of Australia. “LeoLabs is fully committed to making Australia a space surveillance superpower. Australia clearly has an opportunity to become a leader in global space surveillance and governance, and LeoLabs has an important role to play in supporting that mission.”
LeoLabs is the only commercial provider of SDA active radar data and its vertically integrated space operations stack, Vertex™, is designed to drive transparency, sustainability, deterrence, and growth in the commercial space industry. The company offers the space industry persistent, reliable, and highly accurate products derived in great part from its SDA data:
- LeoTrack – Tracking and monitoring
- LeoSafe – Collision avoidance
- LeoClear – Launch window analysis and clear launch confirmation
- LeoLaunch – Launch and early orbit support
- LeoRisk – Comprehensive orbital risk analysis
- LeoGuard – Space domain awareness
The number of satellites in space is significantly increasing as launch capabilities are becoming more affordable. In addition, the issue of untracked space debris is causing increasing collision risks in low earth orbit. The ADF has invested in Joint Project 9360 – Space Domain Awareness – which aims to deliver a multi-layered SDA approach in a number of tranches following the release late last year of an SDA roadmap by CASG’s Wide Area and Space Surveillance project Office (WASSPO) and the Space Acquisition Project Office (SAPO).
A growing number of satellite constellation owners and operators now rely on LeoLabs to protect their highly valuable assets in space. LeoLabs growing customer base includes SpaceX, OneWeb, Planet, Maxar, and the New Zealand Space Agency, to mention a few.
“LeoLabs aims to detect and track the growing debris problem and help manage traffic in low Earth orbit,” said LeoLabs Australia President and Managing Director Terry van Haren. “Satellite constellation owners and operators globally now rely on LeoLabs to protect their highly valuable assets in space through its services and products. We hope more will follow.”
LeoLabs Australia has offices in Sydney, Adelaide, and Newcastle. The company is currently expanding its experienced local Australian team, comprising of veterans from the Australian Defence Force and the space industry, to support its customers in the Asia Pacific region. This team is expected to grow significantly over the next two to four years.