Nova opens satellite in Mid North

OPENING: Engineering firm Nova Systems opened their satellite ground station facility at Peterborough.
OPENING: Engineering firm Nova Systems opened their satellite ground station facility at Peterborough.

A new tourism and education opportunity was launched in Peterborough recently, with engineering firm Nova Systems opening their satellite ground station facility.

The facility located on Cotton Road is currently home to one terminal belonging to a company called Tyvak, but Nova Systems hope to grow this facility into a 'farm' of terminals.

The purpose of the facility, as explained by Nova's general manager of communications, information and space Nicholas Pengelly is to provide companies a place to download their data from lower earth orbiting satellites.

"With the launching of lots of small satellites in the world, we figured that there would need to be a provision to actually download the data from them. These antennas connect to the satellite, download data and deliver it to the customer," Mr Pengelly said.

For a while, mystery has surrounded the 'giant golf ball', but now that its purpose is known, it has become clear as to why Peterborough was chosen.

Mr Pengelly outlines that there was a lot of research that went in to choosing the location for the facility, with many third parties to consider before they made a decision.

"If you are going to be setting up a satellite ground station facility you have got to be in a remote area.

"You don't want a lot of light, you want it fairly flat because the radar needs a big line of sight and also you can't interfere with other people like radio stations, mobile phone networks and they can't interfere with you.

"The more remote you are the better. Then there is a catch 22 because you also need very good internet connection and sometimes when you are remote you can't get that.

"We negotiated with TV stations and things like NASA who have an interest in Australia with Pine Gap. We were pushed towards this area," he said.

Nova bought out the 52 acre property in April and after hosting other's terminals, they hope to eventually host their own.

Mayor of the District Council Peterborough, Ruth Whittle, says that the project has been a mystery to many but she is excited with the potential the terminals hold for possible tourism and education opportunities.

"We are right into tourism which is no secret, it is one of things that has saved, is saving and will continue to save Peterborough.

"To have something else to show people, even now to drive up the road and go past it, is amazing. I see a great future for us, providing that it all continues as they hope.

"I can see a pathway for some of the students from the high school to look at something else as a career. I can see pathways for the kids that don't want to aspire that high, there are differing things they can be involved in. It is just nice to see different people doing different things in and around Peterborough," she said.

Mr Pengelly added that they hope that one day they can turn the house on the property into a discovery centre that people can come through in order to understand the operations of the terminals.

He added that they hope to develop a strong relationship with Peterborough High School to provide students opportunities in engineering and space studies.

In addition to work with the local school, Nova have used several local services to help them prepare the land for the terminals, providing an economic contribution back into the town.

"Everything that has happened here from the clearing of the rubbish on the property, to the building of the fences to making the house into a secure compound, to laying the concrete slabs and all of the IT work, has all been local. I think it is important to recognise those people because they have all done a fantastic job. Peterborough should be very proud," he said.