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SmartSat CRC invests in Canberra’s new space agenda
Mon, 25th Sep 2023

Australia’s space research centre, SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), has increased its investment in ACT to over AUD $7 million. 

SmartSat CRC announced the suite of new R&D projects and university appointments in support of the ACT Space Update 2023 unveiled in Canberra. 

With the ACT Space Update 2023 launch, SmartSat is amplifying this commitment by injecting new funds into research in space technologies addressing bushfire resilience, spacecraft system autonomy, space objects surveillance and cybersecurity. 

One of two new research projects co-funded by SmartSat and ACT Government brings together the Australian National University (ANU) and EOS Space Systems to deliver advanced manufacturing technologies for the OzFuel instrument. 

This is a key payload of an Earth Observation Resilience satellite mission that aims to improve continental-scale fire management and environmental monitoring tailored specifically to Australian Eucalypt forests. 

The second project brings together Infinity Avionics, UNSW Canberra and Nominal Systems to develop capabilities in Space-Based Space Surveillance (SBSS). This is a vital tool for defence and commercial space operations contending with the risks of navigating increasing debris and space objects in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). 

SmartSat has also recently approved funding research capabilities in cybersecurity and resilient artificial intelligence for space systems at UNSW Canberra. 

This is in addition to two SmartSat-backed Professorial Chairs at ANU: Professor Hanna Kurniawati, Professorial Chair for System Autonomy, Intelligence and Decision Making, and Professor Kirk McKenzie, Professorial Chair of Precision Measurement in Space.  

Professor Andy Koronios, CEO of SmartSat, says that the AUD $7 million joint research investment in ACT demonstrates SmartSat’s commitment to supporting the national space sector.

“Since 2020, SmartSat has demonstrated its commitment to building the ACT’s space R&D capabilities, funding over ten projects at ANU and UNSW Canberra. We are excited to support this proactive agenda laid out by the ACT government,” says Professor Koronios. 

“This fresh round of research investment by SmartSat delivers a rapid injection to the ACT Space Update. We believe it will have a force-multiplier effect on developing space R&D capability in the ACT and directly support the ANU’s broader Earth Observation Resilience Mission with critical technology.” 

“SmartSat is building the foundation for a strong and successful national space sector. Through strategic investments that bring together prime industry players such as EOS Space Systems and emerging companies like Infinity Avionics with Australia’s leading universities, we are developing the specialist capability needed to grow a robust commercial space industry,” adds Professor Koronios. 

Professor Anna Moore, Director of ANU Institute for Space, says: “ANU InSpace is delighted to be working with the SmartSat CRC and ACT government on a range of projects that lift our sovereign manufacturing sector and solve some of society’s greatest challenges, including climate change adaptation.”

Igor Dimitrijevic, CEO of Infinity Avionics, says: “Infinity Avionics specialise in space remote sensing, and with increasing global demand for SDA technologies, this project accelerates the time to market for our R&D hardware and tip-and-cue smarts that help our customers rapidly detect and characterise objects in space.” 

“Infinity Avionics will leverage the virtual environment to validate operational concepts and performance requirements of its remote sensing technology, which is a really exciting and powerful combination made possible through our collaboration with Nominal Systems on this project.” 

Professor Ed Kruzins, Acting Director, UNSW Canberra Space, also comments: “The funding announced for this research is so important because operating in an extreme environment like space is complex and challenging, and artificial intelligence is key to making this a simpler and less risky task.” 

“These projects put the ACT in the box seat for the next generation of space activities. UNSW Canberra Space is excited about our role in the sector and being a central player in the ACT’s growing space industry.”