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Viasat Plans to Scan the Heavens From a Post in the Outback

Viasat Inc. is planning a multimillion-dollar infrastructure project.

The Carlsbad-based space technology company intends to build a satellite ground station in Alice Springs, Australia, population 23,000. It’s a town at the center of the continent, roughly 900 miles from the nearest coastal city.

The new enterprise will communicate with satellites in low-Earth orbit. The facility will have two full-motion antenna systems with associated infrastructure. Once built, the center is expected to offer job opportunities to indigenous people.

In a statement, Viasat (Nasdaq: VSAT) said it has partnered with the Centre for Appropriate Technology Ltd. (also called CFAT), an Aboriginal not-for-profit science and technology company, which will build and own the facility through its wholly owned commercial subsidiary CFAT Satellite Enterprises Pty. Ltd., and Indigenous Business Australia, a government agency, which will help finance the project and provide related commercial advice and support.

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The ground station “will offer multiple benefits both locally and globally, from bringing new jobs and opportunities to the region to advancing how remote sensing data is delivered around the world,” said John Williams, vice president of Real-Time Earth at Viasat, in a statement distributed by the company.

“We are revolutionizing data delivery for LEO [low Earth orbit] satellites, bringing affordability and lower latency communications to earth observation and remote sensing applications. The Alice Springs community will be a big part in our development and execution of these advancements.”

In other news, Viasat said its model 400 commercial broadband modem has passed U.S. Army certification, and is now the only software-defined modem authorized to operate on the military Wideband Global Satellite Communications Network.

Viasat said its product will likely help the military cut its costs.

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