The first operational test for the newly built range operations centre at the Woomera Test Range in South Australia was a successful mission from space, showcasing the range to the world.

The facility, built as part of the AIR3024 upgrade program, supported the re-entry of the ground-breaking Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Hayabusa2 capsule. 

Commanding Officer Air Force Test Ranges Squadron (AFTRSQN) Wing Commander Jeremy Parkin said the new facility provided a much-needed technological upgrade to the Woomera Test Range.

“The new facility, built by Raytheon Australia, enables us to combine a number of current radar capabilities to provide a holistic view of the range,” Wing Commander Parkin said. 

“Using the facility for the first time to support the JAXA mission proved very successful.

“The new AFTRSQN range operations centre capability proved to be very accurate in tracking the recent Hyabusa2 capsule heat shields.  

“The accuracy of the latitudes and longitudes provided to the search-and-recovery team to the actual location where the heat shields and instrumentation module were found made it possible to find the capsule in a very short period of time.

“AFTRSQN is proud to be able to offer this level of advanced capability and looks forward to supporting the next generation of range activity.”

Managing Director of Raytheon Australia Michael Ward said the Raytheon team was happy with the results.

 “This was an amazing feat for JAXA and we are extremely proud to have been part of JAXA and the Department of Defence's efforts in this mission through the provision of radars and communication controls supporting safe operations at Woomera Test Range,” he said.

“The capability delivered by the AIR3024 program meant we could assist in tracking the capsule during re-entry and landing, with the range control centre central to all activities, including range safety and data collection.

“Woomera is the world’s largest land test environment and this event has showcased Australia’s range capabilities to the rest of the world.”

The new state-of-the art facility will enable Air Force to provide range users with comprehensive instrument support and track current and emerging capabilities, and allow AFTRSQN to  customise the level of support it provides clients.

Members of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) monitor the Hayabusa2 capsule within the range support facility at the Woomera Test Range. Photo: Corporal Brenton Kwaterski