A newly opened satellite dish will have life-saving implications, says the team who built it.
On a sleepy hillside in the northern tablelands of NSW, the new 11-metre dish, built in partnership with Av-Comm, has become the first in a series of dishes to head up the Southern Positioning Augmentation Network (SouthPAN).
The satellite at Uralla will work in unison with a base-station in New Zealand to improve GPS accuracy by a measure of hundreds, providing accuracy to within 10 centimetres.
SouthPAN is a union of Geoscience Australia and Toit Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand designed to deliver satellite-based accuracy information for a range of industries, which will in future also bolster personal device accuracy.
"If you're using straight GPS or comparable systems you'll have an accuracy of five to 10 metres - it's great for driving, knowing which road you're on and turnoff to take, but driving safety equipment that distance could mean life or death," Geoscience Australia's branch head of positioning Dr Martine Woolf said.
Other immediate value will be for low-visibility landing of aircraft, while there will also be agricultural benefits from SouthPAN.
"The ability to land when visibility is low means you can go much lower with the plane until you have visual contact, otherwise you would have to abort the landing, with this much higher precision positioning information you can much more often land than abort, so it's much more efficient," Dr Woolf said.
Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand CEO Warren McDonald said that accuracy to provide low-visibility landing could be life-saving in regional areas for services like the flying doctors.
He said Lockheed Martin were proud to be part of the SouthPAN project.
""The successful deployment of SouthPAN's first satellite dish represents a leap forward in positioning technology and a testament to the ingenuity and commitment of our Australian team," Mr McDonald said.
"By enabling accuracy down to as little as centimetres, we're not just enhancing positioning services; we're revolutionising how industries operate and how emergency services respond across the region."
Dr Woolf said it was a very exciting moment to see the satellite dish opened as the "first piece of bespoke infrastructure" become a reality after a long period of planning.
"I think the beauty of this system is that it will give precise positioning across the country - you won't have to invest in expensive infrastructure on the ground - and you don't have to have mobile phone or internet, which means the regional areas will benefit the most because that's where infrastructure can be become a challenge.
Dr Woolf said even offshore, the system will provide accuracy below one-metre, which is a 10-to-50 times better than current GPS technology.
The rollout of the satellite network in Uralla and in New Zealand will mean incredibly accurate GPS becomes accessible to both industry and individuals.
"It will be readily available, so it really is a game-changer. We see this technology was already available in the northern hemisphere in the US and Europe and having this now means we not only catch up, but we're almost on the forefront of the world in precise positioning."
She also spoke highly of Uralla's beauty and praised the Lockheed Martin team.
Lockheed Martin Australia's Regional Director for Space, David Ball, said, "The SouthPAN project is a key example of the collaboration necessary to advance Australia's industrial positioning capability. By working together with Av-Comm on this critical infrastructure, we're enhancing our nation's technological capabilities while ensuring that Australia plays a pivotal role in the global economy.
"We look forward to furthering our joint efforts with industry partners to pioneer new frontiers in space and satellite technology"
Michael Cratt, Av-Comm's Managing Director, said, "Partnering with Lockheed Martin Australia to establish SouthPAN's first dedicated infrastructure has been a privilege. As a family-run Australian company, we're not only contributing to the nation's space sector, but hopefully sparking innovation across industries dependent on precise positioning. It's a step forward for Australian technology on the global stage".