Canberra: In a first an Australian body has been chosen to take over day-to-day operations at the European Space Agency's (ESA) deep space tracking centre, it was announced on Friday. The station at New Norcia, 130 km northeast of Perth, will be maintained by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) with the ESA to continue remotely controlling its spacecraft and satellites via the station.
The ESA control centre in Germany uses a 35-metre antenna at the station to track, control and receive data from its spacecraft exploring the solar system. The CSIRO's takeover, which will begin in March 2019, marks the first time that an Australian organisation will manage day-to-day operations at the New Norcia station. The CSIRO currently manages the Canberra Deep Space Communication Centre on behalf of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Friday's announcement came days after the government said that South Australia has been chosen as the home of the Australian Space Agency, which has been tasked with tripling the value of Australia's space industry to 12 billion Australian dollars (8.66 billion U.S. dollars) by 2030.