Work on satellite site in Australia about to begin
July 18, 2008
TOKYO — Construction on a new satellite ground station in Australia begins this month, part of the U.S. Navy’s efforts to provide more secure and mobile communications around the world, according to Navy officials.
The $15 million satellite station in Geraldton, a town in Western Australia 200 miles north of Perth, is part of an effort to increase the military’s system communication capacity tenfold, according to Navy publications and Steven A. Davis, a spokesman for the Navy’s Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command in San Diego.
Davis and Navy spokeswoman Lt. Karen E. Eifert said the site is not a spy base or station. Instead, they said, the technology will allow military units to transfer data while sailing, flying or driving throughout the world without stopping to re-link to the system.
"It allows for full true communications on the move," Davis said during a phone interview last week.
The site, which is scheduled to be completed in a year, will link into the Navy’s Mobile User Objective System, Davis said. That system uses narrowband technology that works despite inclement weather or interferences from urban areas, he said.
The system, called MUOS, will be partially available late this year. The entire system is scheduled to be online by 2014, according to Navy publications.
The site at Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station Geraldton will contain three small buildings for the electrical power, three 18-meter satellite dishes and two smaller antennas, Davis said. Once construction ends, the site will operate unmanned, save for needed maintenance.
Australia was chosen because it provides an "optimal look angle" to the satellite, Davis said. Other site locations are in Hawaii, Norfolk and Sicily.
The technology will be available for all services, military spokespeople said.