SpaceOps NZ's site at Awarua Ground Station is expanding to include a satellite uplink centre, as part of a project that will allow enhanced satellite positioning services across New Zealand and Australia.
Construction start was marked with a visit from Minister for Land Information Damien O’Connor, Australian Deputy High Commissioner Amy Guihot and other partners in the Trans-Tasman project on 24 March.
SouthPAN, which stands for Southern Positioning Augmentation Network, is a joint partnership between Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) and Geoscience Australia.
“Through a space- and land-based network, SouthPAN will enhance the accuracy and reliability of positioning services like GPS to as little as 10 centimetres, greatly improving on the current level of around five to ten metres,” says Damien O’Connor.
Two 11-metre antennas are being built by Lockheed Martin Australia at Awarua that will link to a control centre in Invercargill, also hosted by SpaceOps NZ.
Operations will begin early next year. The Southland facility will form a vital component of SouthPAN, working in tandem with an existing centre in New South Wales and ensuring greater resilience of services if one station is impacted by a major weather event or fire.
“An independent report has estimated the quantified benefits of SouthPAN to New Zealand at $864m over 20 years. It’s expected this figure will grow as new technologies and innovations are developed to harness SouthPAN’s possibilities.”
SouthPAN will ultimately extend to more than 30 reference stations across New Zealand, Australia and further ashore including in Antarctica. It provides New Zealand and Australia a Satellite Based Augmentation System (SBAS) that will deliver the improved positioning and navigational technology already available in Europe, the US, Japan and India.
Pictured from left: Toitū Te Whenua Land Information NZ Kaihautū Customer Delivery Jan Pierce, Australian Deputy High Commissioner Amy Guihot, Lockheed Martin Regional Director for Australia and New Zealand David Ball, Land Information Minister Damien O’Connor, SpaceOps NZ Chief Executive Robin McNeill, Te Rūnaka o Awarua Kaiwhakahaere Dean Whaanga, and SpaceOps NZ Chair Ian Collier.