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$11m space grants to boost businesses and local jobs

17 June 2020

The Morrison Government is backing a series of projects designed to grow Australia’s space sector and create local jobs, including improving GPS technology and the design of innovative spacesuits that will make spacewalking easier.

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology 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.”

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

“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.

“These projects will demonstrate that Australia is not content to just catch up with other nations but can be a leader in space innovation on the world stage. We are proud to support Australia’s emerging space sector and do our part in helping Australia recover from COVID-19.”

The 10 projects include:

  • The University of Melbourne ($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 (AI) 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.
  • Raytracer ($200,000) for its Underwater Virtual Reality Training Simulations for Astronauts.

The Morrison Government is investing almost $700 million into the space sector, with a goal to triple the size of the sector to $12 billion and create an extra 20,000 jobs by 2030.

Media contact: Minister Andrews' office 02 6277 7070