ACT Government support makes Canberra the centre of space and security


Friday, 25 November 2016

ACT Government support makes Canberra the centre of space and security

Canberra’s space sector has been awarded ACT Government funding totalling $750,000, to support the development of space-focussed Key Capability Areas in the ACT’s future high tech economy. Government funding is specifically being spent on projects highlighted as key within the Defence White paper.

“The potential of Canberra’s space economy is enormous,” says the ACT Minister for Higher Education, Training and Research, Meegan Fitzharris. “The Defence White Paper (DWP), released earlier this year, emphasised the need for sovereign Australian capability in key areas and committed the Commonwealth Government to spend approximately $17 billion over the next ten years on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, space, electronic warfare and cyber security.”

UNSW Canberra’s Space Mission Design Facility, a world-class centre for rapid, rigorous and collaborative space mission development, has had funding of $375,000 announced by Minister Fitzharris. At the core of the Space Mission Design Facility is a specialised suite of design software tools and IT infrastructure. It creates an environment in which spacecraft design engineers, scientists and planners can collaborate in order to rapidly design and determine the technical and economic viability of space missions.

Photo: Ms Meegan Fitzharris MLA, ACT Minister for Education, Training and Research

“The Space Mission Design Facility, hosted at UNSW Canberra, complements ANU’s test facilities and will help cement the ACT’s position as the innovation focal point within the growing national space economy,” says Professor Russell Boyce, Director of UNSW Canberra’s space program. “This facility, as well as the development of the quantum ground station capability, will open up new opportunities to connect industry and research across the ACT, Australia and globally, driving innovation and education in the process.”

$375,000 funding also goes towards Space Based Quantum Communications, a joint project between UNSW Canberra and ANU that brings together the space, telescope, adaptive optics, quantum information and optical communications capabilities of UNSW Canberra, ANU, and local industry QuintessenceLabs and Liquid Instruments. Its goal is to establish a ground station for quantum encrypted satellite communication.

According to Associate Professor Andrew Lambert of UNSW Canberra, “The Space Based Quantum Communications project combines UNSW Canberra’s space tracking telescopes and adaptive optics with ANU’s laser and quantum communications capabilities, augmented by the linkage with local industry. Our joint work will be a fantastic opportunity for collaboration within Canberra, and seeks to establish Australia as a world leader in global secure communications”. 

UNSW Canberra has made a $10 million strategic investment to build a domestic space program, which includes assembling a team of space engineers and scientists.

“Part of our investment involves bringing world-class Australian space talent back from the international space sector and reversing the brain drain,” says UNSW Canberra Rector, Professor Michael Frater.

UNSW Canberra’s Master of Space Engineering and Master of Space Operations degrees offer unique up-skilling for Defence and non-Defence professionals working in the space sector and related industries.

“UNSW Canberra is playing a key role in the transformation of space technology and helping Australia to become an important space-faring nation in ways that make economic sense and meet national needs,” Professor Frater says.

Given the combination of UNSW Canberra’s space program and ANU’s Advanced Instrumentation Technology Centre spacecraft test facilities, the potential of Canberra’s space economy has been recognised by business and government. The city not only includes Australia’s two leading space research universities but also boasts multinational corporates such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Airbus Defence and Space, as well as leading SMEs such as Locata. The ACT Government has played a key role in the local space sector’s success. 

Photo: (L-R) A/Prof Andrew Lambert, Prof Daniel Shaddock, Dr Sarah Peasron , Ms Meegan FItzharris MLA, Prof MIchael Frater FTSE, Prof Russell Boyce, Dr Douglas Griffin


Professor Russell Boyce / 0438 800 240 /