Research Themes

Integrated Air and Space Traffic Management System
Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Integrated Air and Space Traffic Management System

Launching satellites into what is becoming a very congested (and contested) air and space environment requires an integrated Air-Space Traffic Management System (ASTMS). We have developed state-of-the-art distributed capabilities in Air Traffic Management (ATM) that operates in real-time, offline, and in simulation mode.

Information on the UNSW-Canberra work on ATM can be found at

Space Technology Development
Image Credit: NASA

Space Technology Development

One does not go into space for the sake of it. The ability to measure things, analyse the Earth or conduct operations from space can provide unique possibilities not available to terrestrial-bound systems. In order to enable the use of such opportunities and to increase our ability to exploit them, suitable technologies must be developed. In this area of Space Technology Development, a multi-pronged approach is being followed.

The current focus areas include the development of novel and innovative in-orbit thermal control techniques (materials, methods and devices), prima

The A-Train
Credit: NASA

Satellite formation flying

Systems of satellites orbiting in formation benefit from being more robust, simpler and cheaper to implement, because the functionality of a satellite's systems can be distributed amongst small, redundant members that can (if necessary) be progressively launched and assembled.

Simultaneously, the capability of tiny satellites is rapidly increasing.

Advanced Instrumentation
Credit: NASA

Advanced Instrumentation

Space-based instrumentation, Ground-based space surveillance/tracking – optical telescope, Ground-based space surveillance/tracking – passive radar, and Advanced Imaging and Remote Sensing Systems

Space-based instrumentation (lead - Dr Sean O’Byrne):

Space Situational Awareness
Credits: NASA

Space Situational Awareness

UNSW Canberra is conducting Space Situational Awareness research, focussing on raising the bar on the science of astrodynamics. This is designed to make a contribution to mitigating the risks associated with the hazard of orbital collisions, particularly with space debris, in the congested near-Earth orbits.

US Air Force Space Command, effectively world lead for Space Situational Awareness responsibilities, has been recommended by the US National Resear

Space Ethics
Credit: NASA/Pat Rawlings (SAIC)

Space Ethics

New advances in space technology and science potentially open up whole new worlds for humans to explore. This is a very exciting time in human history as we continue to push the frontiers of knowledge. However, not all innovation is positive, and even the development of "good" technologies can have negative outcomes.

Space Ethics is concerned with examining the idea that just because we CAN do certain things in space, it doesn't mean we OUGHT to do them.

The Falcon Telescope
Image Credit: UNSW Canberra

Engineering – fundamental enablers for space missions

To achieve affordable, routine in-orbit space research, professional in-house space engineering expertise has been assembled in addition to the postdoctoral talent targeted for the science.

UNSW Canberra current academic staff experience in space science and engineering sums collectively to several decades, and includes direct involvem