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US Space Force visits SDA site in Adelaide

US Space Force staff have toured a site in Adelaide where Australia and the US are collaborating on space domain awareness.

The “Commercial Operations Cell” in South Australia is part of the broader “JCO” initiative that sees cooperating countries monitor the skies during the day before handing over to another site when it gets dark. Already, the aspiring global system operates across three regional cells in the Americas, Pacific, and Meridian.

It significantly comes after the newly formed No. 1 Space Surveillance Unit (1SSU) assumed operation of Defence’s space domain awareness capabilities earlier this year.

“Australia’s space advantages include our Southern Hemisphere location and vast, open, electronically quiet land mass,” said Defence Space Commander Air Vice-Marshal Cath Roberts.


“We can observe and receive signals from space at times when other nations cannot. Our allies and international partners offer their own advantages. We collaborate on capabilities and work together on operations and activities, sharing missions and data.

“Space is of global significance. Defence is collaborating with international partners to maximise resilience in a contested space domain. Space domain awareness allows us to monitor activities in space and detect and respond to potential threats.

“JCO operational integration is also one of the ways we develop our space workforce. Collaborations like these help our space professionals learn from their counterparts across the world.”

The visit saw Australia’s Space Command welcome the US Space Force’s Barbara Golf, a strategic adviser on space domain awareness, and Major Dustin O’Donnell.


“Australia’s Southern Hemisphere location enables a ‘follow-the-sun’ collaborative operating model,” said Golf. “Commencing shifts in the JCO further solidifies the US–Australia and wider coalition bonds in the space domain.”

1SSU – established at RAAF Base Edinburgh in January – formally took over Australia’s C-Band Radar and Space Surveillance Telescope (SST) earlier this year.

The SST is an electro-optical sensor that surveys the night skies, cataloguing objects in geosynchronous orbit more than 30,000 kilometres above the Earth, where many telco and military satellites reside.

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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