UNSW Canberra collaborates with Clearbox on study

Max Blenkin

University of NSW Canberra and Canberra company Clearbox Systems have secured Commonwealth funding for a project to improve space situational awareness (SSA).

UNSW Canberra collaborates with Clearbox on study
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UNSW and Clearbox will undertake a collaborative research project centred on mitigating the risks associated with the hazard of orbital collisions in the congested near-Earth orbits.

The key activities to be undertaken will be determining the most appropriate spacecraft signals to enhance SSA and devising methods to extract information, including spacecraft trajectory information, from those signals.

UNSW Canberra Space director Russell Boyce said that this collaboration will make progress in a priority area for the Australian space research community, and was bringing together academia and industry to deliver real world solutions addressing user needs and opportunities.

“Australia makes an important contribution to global space collision avoidance. This research will raise the bar and enhance that contribution even further,” he said.

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Jeremy Hallett, executive director of Clearbox Systems, said the company was excited to be working with UNSW Canberra Space.

He said Clearbox saw this as a major opportunity in the world of SSA.

“We have deep expertise in satellite communications and believe we can adapt this for SSA applications. However, we believe our best chance of success will come through collaboration, which is at the core of our business,” Hallett said.

“By engaging closely and often with institutions like UNSW Canberra, it will enable us to sharpen our focus and accelerate new product development.”

It is expected that there will be at least a 20-fold increase in the number of active low-Earth orbit satellites in the next five years, with a similar increase in the total mass in low-Earth orbit. 

The new project aims to enhance tracking and knowledge of the behaviour of these satellites.

The funding was awarded as part of the Innovation Connections grant program. Innovation Connections assists businesses to understand their research needs, connect with the research sector and fund collaborative research projects.

UNSW Canberra Space is a team with facilities to enable end-to-end space mission capability.  From its base at UNSW Canberra, the team plays a leading role in shaping and developing the Australian space industry to meet global challenges.

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