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Shoal Group secures first technical services contract for ASA

Stephen Kuper
Shoal Group secures first technical services contract for ASA

Systems engineering firm Shoal Group, partnering with Asia Pacific Aerospace Consultants (APAC), has secured the Australian Space Agency’s first technical services contract.

The contract was signed in June by Shaun Wilson, founder and head of business development of Shoal Group, and Alexandra Seneta, executive director of regulation and international obligations at the Australian Space Agency.

Michael Waite, CEO of Shoal Group, who announced successful completion of the first milestone deliverable, welcomed the news, saying, "Shoal Group and APAC are delighted to have been awarded the first space-related technical services contract in support of the Australian Space Agency."

The Australian Space Agency, which was established in July 2018, is responsible for the regulation and authorisation of Australian space activities. Shoal and APAC will be implementing a systems thinking approach to the review and refresh of the current Flight Safety Code (FSC) and Maximum Probable Loss (MPL) Methodology to align with the new Space (Launches and Returns) Act 2018 when it commences on 31 August 2019.


Managing director of APAC, Kirby Ikin, said, "Both companies are able to draw on extensive experience and involvement in the international space community to deliver well-founded advice to the agency."

The FSC and MPL Methodology are being refreshed to recognise changes in space technology and operations in the two decades since the original code and methodology were put in place; for example, the new versions will accommodate high-power rocketry and air-launched space vehicles. A calculator tool will also be developed to provide space launch proponents initial estimates of MPL for planning purposes prior to seeking specialist advice. 

Shoal has extensive experience in decision support analytics and in aerospace modelling and simulation with a long history in space safety management. A decade ago, Shoal was involved with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa ‘return to Earth’ mission, where Shoal safety analysis confirmed the trajectory and impact point of the Hayabusa Sample Return Capsule for the Australian Space Licensing and Safety Office, a predecessor to the Australian Space Agency.

Shoal has also previously conducted flight safety analyses for a range of civil space and military systems. Wilson is a board member of the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety (IAASS).


APAC has extensive experience in the space launch industry underpinned by the direct experience of its principal’s, Ikin and William Barrett, in evaluating launch site risks for the insurance industry and their direct experience in trying to develop an Australian launch site. Ikin and Barrett previously ran GIO Space, one of the largest space insurance underwriting units in the world.

In this role they conducted detailed assessments of launch vehicles, launch sites, launch operations, launch regulations as well as third-party liability to assess the insurance underwriting risks for launch.

During this time, APAC advised the federal government on many aspects of the Space Activities Act 1998 and its regulations. Subsequently, they were key members of the team developing launch operations including techniques to conduct the flight safety analysis under the Flight Safety Code in order to obtain the first facility licence under the Space Activities Act at Asia Pacific Space Centre (APSC), the launch industry start-up with rights to the Soyuz launch vehicle developing a spaceport on Christmas Island.

APAC regularly provides advice on all aspects of launch activities including market analysis, launch legislation and regulations, and launch insurance for both domestic and international clients.

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