The Australian Government has given Japan permission to build a temporary military satellite ground station at Perth to support the launch of four Japanese Self Defence Force early warning and reconnaissance satellites next year. The station is to be jointly constructed by the Japanese National Space Development Agency (NASDA) and the Hague-based Xantic.

The partners will also build a new permanent commercial satellite ground station for NASDA at Telstra's international telecommunications centre at Perth, Western Australia. Telstra is a Xantic shareholder.

The permanent ground station will "not perform any function in relation to the information gathering satellites", according to the Australian Government.

The temporary ground station will provide a back-up facility during the launch and orbital positioning of the four information gathering satellites.

The Perth location suggests a polar orbit profile for the information gathering satellites. Japan embarked on a $1.3 billion military satellite programme in late 1998 after North Korea launched a Tapeo Dong 1 missile over its territory in an attempt to place its own satellite in orbit.

The prime contractor for the Japanese programme is Mitsubishi Electric, which is also a major subcontractor on the new Singtel C1 communications satellite to be launched next year. The C1 satellite is jointly funded by Singtel and the Australian Department of Defence and will carry a key military communications payload.

Meanwhile, Australia could become a minor partner in the International Space Station by providing the South Australian Woomera Rocket Range as an emergency landing site for the planned ISS Crew Return Vehicle.

Source: Flight International