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Australian space industry to benefit from $11m in grants

Stephen Kuper
Australian space industry to benefit from $11m in grants

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Karen Andrews has announced $11 million worth of grants to support the growth of Australia’s space sector and create local jobs, including improving GPS technology and the design of innovative spacesuits that will make spacewalking easier.

Industry, Science and Technology Minister, Karen Andrews said the 10 projects sharing in $11 million would boost jobs and skills in the space sector, and contribute to the nation’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The space industry is a key growth sector that will form an important part of our economic recovery and help us emerge from the COVID-19 crisis stronger than ever," Minister Andrews said.

"Investment in the space sector not only supports the creation of high tech jobs here in Australia, but also develops technologies that can support other areas of competitive advantage for our nation including agriculture and mining.

"This support will strengthen Australian business and university connections with international industry and space agencies, helping our businesses to prove themselves on the global stage and potentially secure more work in the future," Minister Andrews explained. 

Dr Megan Clark AC, head of the Australian Space Agency, said the projects showed Australia’s ability to develop highly advanced technology, diversify our economy and build workforce skills to participate internationally.

The 10 projects include:

  • Melbourne University ($3,955,223) for its SpIRIT (Space Industry Responsive Intelligent Thermal) CubeSat mission, which involves the development of an innovative nano-satellite. SpIRIT will be the first Australian-made spacecraft to host a foreign space agency payload;
  • Akin ($1,531,200) to develop an artificial intelligence space crew with personas working together to help astronauts with complex system tests;
  • Silentium Defence Trading ($1,460,541) for its South Australian Multi-Sensor Space Observatory for space situational awareness and space traffic management;
  • Human Aerospace ($844,236) to create a spacesuit that eases bone loss and other unhealthy side effects of microgravity during prolonged space missions.
  • Skykraft ($878,193) for its design and qualification of micro-satellite constellation launch systems;
  • Saber Astronautics Australia ($788,792) for OSSO: The Open Source Space Operations infrastructure;
  • University of New South Wales ($691,500) for its Advanced Global Navigation Satellite System Receiver for CubeSats, rockets and remote sensing;
  • University of Canberra ($432,494) for its VertiSense-Mitigation of Sensorimotor Effects of Simulated Weightlessness, a project to counter sensorimotor disturbances experienced by astronauts after spaceflight;
  • Stamen Engineering ($217,821) for its Decision Support System for Collision Avoidance of Space Objects; and
  • Raytracer ($200,000) for its Underwater Virtual Reality Training Simulations for Astronauts.

"These outstanding projects demonstrate the breadth and quality that our small and medium sized companies and researchers have to offer, from space suits to advanced chip manufacturing," Dr Clark said. 

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