Into the DARC

- April 2024

The late 2023 announcement by AUKUS Defence Ministers of the establishment of a Deep Space Advanced Radar Capability (DARC) under Pillar II was an exciting moment for several Parbery team members who worked on this project over the preceding 18 months.

With installations in Australia, the United States and United Kingdom DARC will provide tracking for objects out to geosynchronous (GEO) orbit (36,500 kilometres) with the Australian installation to be constructed at Exmouth WA and scheduled to be operating by 2026. DARC will help AUKUS partners increase Space Domain Awareness and provide a capability for responding to the threat of space junk and/or disruptions to AUKUS partner satellites and other equipment in space.

Malcolm Davis of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) noted in relation to DARC that:

The importance of ensuring that we know what’s happening in GEO can’t be overstated. The high-altitude orbit allows a satellite to match the earth’s rotational velocity and remain positioned above one point on the surface with minimal use of fuel. Satellites in lower altitudes orbit faster than the earth rotates, which means more satellites are needed to maintain constant coverage of one location.

Working with prime contractor Jacobs Australia, Parbery team members provided support to the DARC project for both Defence Space Command and Capability, Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG). This included program management, strategic advice, cost modelling, commercial, strategic communications, stakeholder engagement and governance. Activities covered were extensive, from navigating rapid Government approvals, supporting international MOU negotiations with AUKUS partners to engagement with traditional owners in the North-West Cape of WA.

It is a great privilege to have the opportunity to work on activities such as DARC, working closely with an integrated team of ADF, APS and Contracted personnel, making a real contribution to the Defence mission to defend Australia and its national interests.

Current and former Parbery staff working with Defence Space Command have included Brendhan Egan, Kylie Burnett, Adam Costantini, Peter Noakes, Claire Forbes, Rae MacDonald, Geoff Fisher and Ivana Srna.