Extra $2.5m funding for space test facilities

By on 17 June, 2021

The Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility at the ANU. Image courtesy ANU Institute for Space.

Afurther $2.5 million is being poured into Australia’s space industry, with the aim of improving the country’s ability to develop space-qualified hardware and creating export opportunities.

The funding from the Australian Space Agency, via the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources’ Space Infrastructure Fund, will be spread between six organisations.

The bulk of the funding will go to the ANU to boost its Heavy Ion Accelerator, which will be used to test hardware components’ ability to withstand the space radiation environment.

The funding will also assist the ANU to: monitor hardware in the largest thermal vacuum chamber in Australia (WOMBAT XL), establish the first standardised pyroshock testing facility in Australia and provide better temperature mapping during testing.

Nova Systems, meanwhile, will support the ANU with its experience in space qualification testing and use of its Australian testing facilities. The company will also support the development of an online database of off-the-shelf tested components.

ANSTO will use its expertise to ensure Australia can meet the international standard for Total Ionisation Dosage radiation testing, and will use its capabilities to cover all levels of radiation testing so that Australian products can enter into global supply chains faster.

Likewise, Steritech will offer large-scale radiation testing at locations in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria.

The University of Wollongong is to develop laser-based screening to provide a low-cost service to industry in preparation for full radiation testing and testing of sector-supplied off-the-shelf components.

And Saber Astronautics will integrate radiation qualification with Mission Control Centre data and infrastructure standards to determine the appropriate space environment profiles for qualification testing.

The Director of the ANU’s Institute for Space, Professor Anna Moore, said the new funding and upgraded facilities would help “launch Australia’s burgeoning space industry to another level”.

“This generous funding will ensure Australian space innovations can be tested to easily enter new markets around the world,” Professor Moore said.

“Australia’s space industry is growing. Upgraded facilities will mean we can make sure the payloads we send into space, including satellites and spacecraft, are able to survive before they blast off.”

The Space Infrastructure Fund comprises a total of $19.5 million split into seven sectors:

  • Space manufacturing facilities (NSW, $2 million)
  • Mission control (SA, $6 million)
  • Tracking facilities upgrade (TAS, $1.2 million)
  • Robotics, automation and AI command and control (WA, $4.5 million)
  • Space data analysis facilities (WA, $1.5 million)
  • Space payload qualification facilities ($2.5 million)
  • Pathway to launch ($0.9 million)

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