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By SpOC Staff Writer, Space Operations Command
/ Published September 30, 2022
(l-r) Air Surveillance Operators from No. 1 Remote Sensor Unit, Flight Sergeant Peter Merritt, Sergeant Emma Barker, Leading Aircraftwoman Amy Clements and Leading Aircraftman Corey Tuddenham, at the Air Forces Space Surveillance Telescope in Western Australia. Air Surveillance Operators at No. 1 Remote Sensor Unit based at RAAF Base Edinburgh concluded training on 23 April 2021 to operate the Units newest capability, the first RAAF Space Surveillance Telescope (SST).
Located at the Harold E Holt Communication Station in Exmouth, Western Australia, the SST will survey the night skies, detecting and cataloguing objects in geosynchronous orbit, more than 30,000km above the Earth; where many important telecommunications satellites reside.
Defunct satellites and debris litter this orbit and pose a collision risk to active spacecraft. As such, the SST's detections will help identify such risks and preserve the safe use of space. The first RAAF SST operators are now developing procedures and trialling techniques toward achieving Initial Operating Capability.
The SST's observations will contribute to the Australian Defence Forces Space Domain Awareness, and that of Australia's allies. The establishment of the Space Surveillance Telescope capability marks an impressive milestone for 1RSU and more broadly, Air Forces collaboration with the US and agencies within the space sector.
A Space Surveillance Telescope used to track satellites
An internal view of the Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) inside the dome at Naval Communication Station Harold E. Holt Sensor Site facility near Exmouth, Western Australia.
On 30 Sep 2022, Australia and the United States declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the SST. The United States remain the SST owners. Australia are responsible for the facilities, operating and training units, preventative maintenance contracts and sustainment. The SST contributes to the global Space Surveillance Network, tracking and identifying objects in deep space, including space debris.