The Canberra Mt Stromlo Space Research Centre is back on its feet after the devastating bush fire that destroyed the facility in January 2003.
The Minister for Industry, Tourism and Resources Ian Macfarlane officially opened the Geoscience Australia Satellite Laser Ranging facility last week. The facility is provided by Electro Optic Systems under a long-term contract for the provision of laser tracking data.
The EOS Space Research Centre was fully restored by the end of March this year, and has resumed its research and commercial laser tracking programs. The new facility has also received a financial boost under various program initiatives by EOS and its customers, and now exceeds the capability lost in the 2003 fires.
According to the centre's general manager Ron Thompson, they were already planning to upgrade the research centre before the Canberra bush fires. After the restoration, the research centre now has greater precision than the previous centre.
"We anticipate reaching the moon much more easily because of the hardware improvements we now have such as the telescope," he said.
The EOS executed a final deed of settlement with its insurers in respect of its losses at Mt Stromlo. Under the provisions of the deed, EOS' entitlements total AU$10.1 million, with the amount not already paid of approximately AU$1.9 million now payable immediately.
Thompson said the speedy recovery of the Space Research Centre has allowed EOS to maintain progress in key development programs such as Laser De-Orbiting of Space Debris and has recently been authorised after a government review to proceed to Phase 2 of this program.
Thompson also said data gathering from the site were just delayed because of the fire, and that "no catastrophic impact" occurred because of the delays.
"There was no impact on us and none that related to us. Other sites around the world continued with their operations and since we are not involved in collaborative efforts with other agencies, no one else was affected," Thompson said.