In December 2020, the Ventia team at Woomera, South Australia was proud to support the Japan Aerospace Exploration Space Agency's (JAXA) Hayabusa2 mission to return samples from the asteroid Ryugu to Australia's Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA), the first ever sub-surface asteroid samples to be returned to Earth.

The Hayabusa2 sample return capsule returned to earth in the early hours of Sunday 6 December in a fireball that was visible from Coober Pedy where spectators gathered to witness the historic event.

Hayabusa2 departed the 4.5 billion year old Ryugu in November 2019, with the return journey taking just over one year to reach back to Earth. 

JAXA hopes the samples will answer some of the most fundamental questions about the origins and evolution of the solar system including the origin of organic matters and water from Earth's oceans. 

The JAXA team was supported by a specialist team from NASA, who conducted airborne observations of the re-entry, the Australian Space Agency and Ventia teams.

Ventia's South Australian Defence Regional Operations Manager and former Air Force Officer, Phil McLennan, said it was an exciting project for the team and an honour to support Defence and the space industry.

We have a fantastic team at Woomera who are accustomed to working on unique projects and operating in the challenges of a remote location but this was certainly one of the most exciting and interesting for the team.

Mission support

Ventia began planning for the task in early 2020, as the Estate Maintenance and Operational Services (EMOS) provider in South Australia for the Department of Defence, Ventia was tasked with providing several logistical, maintenance and integration tasks to support the mission. 

Tasks included preparing the grounds and surrounds, ensuring all buildings and facilities were maintained and repaired, and transforming the ELDO Hotel into an international media centre. The team also coordinated accommodation bookings, prepared rooms and catered meals for the 160+ contingent of international guests.

Ventia also provided and installed a satellite and network solution to support JAXA's recovery team and the onsite technical support and communications. Due to the remote environments Ventia operates in, their IT systems and devices are relied upon for use in emergency situations and for emergency response. 

Remote site communications

Ventia provided and installed a satellite and network solution to support JAXA's recovery team.

Ventia designed and incorporated their satellite bandwidth and network solution, utilizing their Rapid Deploy Satellite Trailers, 8 BGAN fly away field kits, secure remote network and skilled field-ready technicians to support the operations command center.

Woomera operations as well as the EMOS provider of base service support at Woomera, Ventia also operates the commercial operations in the township of Woomera, as well as support base operations at RAAF Base Woomera.

The commercial operations under management by Ventia include the operation and management of the 300-bed accommodation facility, the Eldo Hotel, museum, heritage centre, supermarket as well as some of the more unusual facilities such as the rocket park, 1960s cinema, bowling alley, cemetery and the Port Augusta to Woomera pipeline.