Beijing To Be Cut Off From Space Tracking Station in WA
When contract expires, the facility’s owners informed, China will have limited ability to expand space exploration and navigational capabilities in the Pacific region.
Beijing will lose access to a strategic space tracking station the Yatharagga Satellite Station, located about 350 kilometres north of Perth.
The Swedish Space Corporation has had a contract allowing Beijing access to the satellite antenna at the ground station since at least 2011. It is located next to an SSC satellite station primarily used by the United States and its agencies, including NASA.
The Swedish state-owned company stated it would not enter into any new contracts at the Australian site to support Chinese customers after its current contract expires. However, it did not disclose when the lease runs out.
Given the complexity of the Chinese market, brought about by the overall geopolitical situation, SSC has decided to focus mainly on other markets for the coming years, the SSC informed.
The site is owned by SSC subsidiary, SSC Space Australia.
Ground stations are a vital part of space programs given they create a telecommunications link with spacecraft.
Christopher Newman, professor of Space Law and Policy at Northumbria University in Newcastle, England, said China wants to remove its dependence on GPS as part of broader plans to expand its global influence.
GPS could be made unavailable to them in a military conflict. An independent secure system is crucial for the capabilities of the People’s Liberation Army in respect to targeting, weapons, navigation, Professor Newman explained.