The Carnarvon OTC dish, a historic landmark in northwest Australia, has recently been partially rotated for the first time since its decommissioning over 30 years ago. The dish, once used by NASA to assist in space missions, is now being refurbished to track satellites in geostationary orbit around Earth for ThothX, a Canadian space company.
Under a 20-year lease agreement, ThothX plans to restore the facility to operational status. Initial works have already begun, with the recent successful rotation of the 29-meter-wide dish. However, there is still much work to be done, including the installation of new motors and electric brakes.
Phil Youd, ThothX Australia director and manager of the Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum, expressed optimism about the project. He mentioned plans for a Canadian partner to visit the facility and bring the necessary equipment to test satellite tracking and signal receiving capabilities.
Although progress has been slow, Youd emphasized that they are moving in the right direction. He visited ThothX’s operations in Canada and was impressed by their refurbished dish, which was built around the same time as Carnarvon’s dish. He highlighted the potential of refurbishing old equipment and integrating new technology.
ThothX aims to install a $10-million radar on the Carnarvon dish in the future, but the project leading up to that point is expected to cost millions of dollars.
In addition to mechanical upgrades, the dish is undergoing a cosmetic makeover. Mark Broome from Midwest Asset Maintenance is removing rust spots caused by sea breeze and clearing away years of accumulated pigeon droppings. The restoration efforts are welcomed by the community, as the Carnarvon Space and Technology Museum attracts visitors to the town.
The successful rotation of the Carnarvon OTC dish marks a significant milestone in its restoration process, bringing it closer to its future role in satellite tracking and contributing to the ongoing development of the Australian space industry.