Grant recipients

Recipient organisation Project title Project description Grant amount (excluding GST)
Curtin University Binar Prospector – low altitude exploration of the Moon for accessible ISRU

The project lays the foundation for a lunar orbiter mission – Binar Prospector – that targets the resource potential of the Moon. The Binar Prospector Mission will consist of 2+ 6U cubesats flying at low altitude and using novel COTS payloads to deliver high resolution digital mapping for ISRU exploration of the Moon. The Feasibility project will examine the mission in technical and programmatic detail, to confirm feasible mission solutions; the Demonstrator Mission will be a Prospector spacecraft in LEO, and the Main Mission will take the technology to the Moon. If rideshare options are available there is potential to accelerate the mission to put a Demonstrator into lunar orbit.

Australian Remote Operations For Space And Earth Ltd Lunar Construction Rover Feasibility Study

The project will demonstrate the feasibility of an Australian operated Lunar Construction Rover and Stage 1 Mission scope. AROSE will investigate and formulate the end-to-end mission concept and align architecture, governance and strategy with NASA’s Artemis mission. The project will develop a business and commercialisation plan to secure further investment.

The University Of Adelaide Remote Sensing using Optically enabled formation flying of CubeSats

The project will perform a conceptual design of the 2Qb mission that includes the design of the two CubeSats, inter-spacecraft omnidirectional optical communicators (ISOC) and an Optical Ground Station (OGT). The University of Adelaide will undertake conceptual studies that investigate formation flying of cubesats through precision proximity control via optical ranging techniques, leveraging technology from optical communications. It will also articulate the synthesis of larger apertures enabled by precision control of CubeSat swarms. The study will assist the University to formulate plans and develop novel scientific instrumentation for earth observation, lunar and martin applications. The developed instrumentation will have potential in civil, commercial and military space applications.

University Of Western Australia Australian optical communications support for NASA Artemis and beyond

The project will establish an Artemis-compatible optical communications channel over a free-space laser link between the Western Australian Optical Ground Station and an airborne target that mimics the Orion spacecraft. The University of Western Australia will collaborate with Fugro Marine Australia to remotely coordinate ground station operations through the Australian Space Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Control Complex. The project will demonstrate the feasibility of Australian optical communications support for NASA’s inspirational Artemis Program to send the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024; and it will also bring immediate economic benefit for Australian industries through its impact on terrestrial optical communications.

Australian National University Laser Technology for the next GRACE Mission

The project will develop laser measurement technology for the next generation gravity sensing mission, slated for launch in the mid-2020s. It extends a successful decade long international collaboration on the GRACE Follow-On mission to develop prototype space flight hardware for the Mass Change mission. The Australian National University and its partner CEA Technologies will work to demonstrate the feasibility to deliver a space-ready laser system to a near-term launch opportunity on a high-profile Earth science mission.

Thales Australia Limited Feasibility of Event Based Vision Sensors servicing the Artemis Spacecraft

Thales will partner the International Centre for Neuromorphic Systems (ICNS) at the Western Sydney University and provide support and access to unique Thales capabilities to enable this feasibility project. The project will combine Event Based Vision Sensors (EBVS) simulator, from ICNS, with Thales’ Spacecraft and Planetary Imaging by Camera Model (SPICAM) / EROSS digital simulator (FES)in Australia. It will:

  • determine the improvement of the EBVS over existing sensors used in EROSS in high contrast visual environments.
  • determine performance gains from combined use of EBVS and existing sensors using sensor fusion. Leverage data from EBVS systems on the International ‘Space Station 2022-2024
  • determine the feasibility of edge processing for object motion prediction systems at the EBVS.

The study will impact on the design and capability of the EROSS platforms as they mature, improve the effectiveness of sensor payloads on Artemis missions.

Australian National University Australian Deep Space Optical Communications Ground Station

The project will prototype and test a deep space optical communications ground instrument compatible with NASA’s Optical to Orion (O2O) mission: to demonstrate high speed optical communications between Earth and the Orion spacecraft as it orbits the Moon. The Australian National University will partner with Liquid Instruments to build and verify the optical transmitter in the lab. The interface requirements for the full transmitter and receiver system will be defined in preparation for the full system construction. Once complete, this instrument will be equipped to the university’s optical ground station, providing Southern Hemisphere ground support for NASA’s O2O mission from 2024 onwards.

University Of New South Wales Feasibility of a reconfigurable intelligent hyperspectral satellite mission

The project is designed to be a pathfinder to demonstrate intelligent hyperspectral remote sensing capabilities that can be reconfigured in an agile way in-orbit to meet the needs of multiple end-users – commercial, government and research – and to grow Australian space industry maturity to be able to provide for the longer term mission, including interplanetary opportunities

The feasibility element will include a detailed analysis of the end-user business case and related mission requirements, an analysis of the on-board AI algorithms needed to perform the demonstrations, a concurrent design study of the technical, schedule and budget feasibility of the project, analysis of the feasibility of the end-to-end payload processing chain, including in-orbit reconfigurability. This work includes elements of Pre-Phase A, Phase A and Phase B activities. The University of New South Wales Canberra Space will collaborate with Infinity Avionics, Ozius, Cingulan, Geoscience Australia and the CSIRO to deliver the project.

Queensland University Of Technology Remote Operations for Internal Logistics Handling

The Queensland University of Technology will collaborate with their partners MDA and Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth on a robotic solution to be used with a pressurized module at the Lunar Gateway to handle internal logistics, remotely supervised from Earth while also having local autonomous operations capabilities. The project will leverage Australia’s niche comparative advantage in remote asset management to design and test aspects of the system through a preliminary demonstration.

CD3D PTY Limited Breakthrough subsurface water-ice detection and geological mapping radars

The project will determine the feasibility of a space-hardened, compact, ultrawideband radar that can be used to sound lunar or Martian geology from surface to depth. CD3D will develop a prototype for testing over terrestrial analogue targets. The project will consider options for lander/rover deployment to use ultra-compact, 5-10 times lighter-weight, low power deep-penetrating radars tested for use in both lunar and Martian geological mapping.

Valiant Space Pty Ltd Fast Acting Space Transportation (FAST) Demonstrator Mission

The project will investigate and de-risk key elements of the proposed Fast Acting Space Transportation (FAST) Demonstrator Mission. Valiant Space will collaborate with Skykraft to mature Valiant Space’s non-toxic in-space thruster, to integrate the propulsion system within a Skykraft satellite bus, and to develop concepts for deep-space mission architectures. Through the project, future Australian missions will have access to sovereign, high TRL, chemical propulsion for deep-space applications, and both Valiant Space and Skykraft will be able develop and expand their commercial operations.

Abyss Solutions Pty. Ltd. Spaceborne robotic inspection and intervention

The project will develop the preliminary design and prototype of a robotic sensor and intervention manipulator package that will undertake asset inspection and repairs for spaceborne operations. Abyss Solutions will partner with the University of Sydney to undertake the project which includes:

  • identification of anomalies and features according to space inspection standards
  • COTS sensor studies to identify hardware that fulfils the requirements Undergoing analysis of machine learning algorithms with reduced processing resources
  • feasibility for intervention strategies based on the expected data
  • feasibility for potential inspection asset targets, including launch potential
  • commercial model and business plan development.
Sperospace Pty Ltd Multifunction Arm Robot for Space feasibility study and demonstration

The project conduct a feasibility study for the Sperospace’s Robotics Satellite Demonstration (RSD) Mission including concept development, a system requirements review, and preliminary design reviews for the mission. Sperospace will collaborate with their partners the Space Machines Company, Saber Astronautics Australia, the University of New South Wales, Weintraus Inc, Orbit Fab Inc, Contactile, Spiral Blue, B Wise Networks and High Earth Orbit Robotics to launch and develop two demonstration payloads in 2022 to validate and attain space heritage for the cold welding process and sensors which will be unique advantages of MARS. A MARS prototype and end effector will be developed and tested in a laboratory environment to a TRL5 level for the feasibility element of the project.

The University Of Adelaide Novel fluorescence sensing of materials for Moon to Mars ISRU

The project will discover and characterise novel fluorescence (NF) from minerals and compounds significant to space In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU), to create a roadmap for design and construction of a NF sensor module including a plan to test the NF sensor module in the Space environment. The University of Adelaide will construct a cold vacuum chamber – the Lunar Surface Simulation Stage (LSSS) - to enable NF analysis in a simulated Space environment; procure samples of importance to ISRU, including if available synthetic lunar regolith; measure NF characteristics in the LSSS, focussing on NF regimes never previously explored for these materials; and undertake excitation and detection condition optimisation, to guide design of the sensor module for construction and Space Mission validation.

University Of Sydney Drilling, Inference, and Navigation for Geological Operations (DINGO)

The project will produce: a literature review of key lunar resources and their distribution; an autonomous exploration planning system featuring an adaptive sampling algorithm for detailed resource mapping; an actuated sampling payload for proof of concept testing; demonstration of the adaptive sampling algorithm using a sampling payload on an existing terrestrial robot platform; and a project plan for lunar design and deployment of the final payload and planning system. Through this project, the Australian Centre for Field Robotics at the University of Sydney will investigate adaptive sampling approaches, these techniques have applications in agriculture, mining, bushfire management.

Enable Aerospace Pty. Ltd. The Australian Universal Payload Solution for International Space Missions

The project will assess the feasibility of a novel and affordable Universal payload Rack System (UPRS) to enable non-standard payloads to be sent into space. Enable Aerospace and their partners Sierra Nevada CORP and RMIT will collaborate to show feasibility of a system that will provide the flexibility of combining payloads of any type onto a single payload rack for installation into a spacecraft such as the ISS, SNC Dream Chaser and the Artemis program modules. UPRS would be developed in Australia by Enable Aerospace using sophisticated Model Based System Engineering (MBSE) and digital twinning techniques, manufactured using 3D printing technologies and space qualified by a flight demonstration.

Phosenergy Limited Australian Radioisotope Heater Unit for Lunar Night Survival

The project will design a Radioisotope Heater Unit (RHU) to allow a lunar surface payload to survive and operate over multiple lunar nights. The feasibility element will include the selection of an appropriate radionuclide, hot pellet design using numerical heat transfer and radiation-transport models, design of a ballistic casing and thermal shielding, prototype manufacturing and testing and logistics and regulatory challenges for the irradiation. Processing and manufacture of the heat source shall be addressed, ensuring radionuclide in substantial quantities for future commercial exploitation. The project will take the RHU casing to a Technology Readiness Level of 6. Phosenergy will collaborate with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and Ouranos Systems to undertake the project.

Raytracer Pty Ltd Optimising computing interfaces for Human to Machine lunar operations.

The project will conduct further development of spatial computing interfaces, enabling astronauts to control lunar robots efficiently and effectively from a lunar surface habitat or vehicle. Raytracer will collaborate with their project partner the Queensland University of Technology to determine the feasibility of developing of the CARBON human to machine interface system. The feasibility study will identify and address gaps in the system and assess security, technology, project and mission risks. The project outcomes will help to predict and plan the next ground and launch phases of the mission to ultimately prepare the system for space activities aboard Artemis 4 missions and beyond.

University Of Southern Queensland Early plant stress detection using machine vision for food safety in space

The project will develop launch-ready software, including recommended machine vision sensors for plant monitoring, using laboratory experiments for plant stress and established with collaborators from NASA. Resulting sensor signals will be used to develop monitoring algorithms to complement current sensing approaches used by NASA for advancing the development of sustainable plant-based food production in space. A graphical user interface will be developed to provide a user-friendly dashboard for plant stress monitoring with minimal to no crew interaction. The launch-ready software will be developed with the intention of being deployed in prototype plant habitat payloads on space flights during the mission phase.

The University Of Adelaide Next Generation Phased Arrays for Deep Space Network

The project will conduct a Pre-Phase A study to develop phased array antennas to replace the 70-m parabolic dish within the Deep Space Network (DSN) with a focus on concept studies, trade space exploration, system design, and integration technology implications leading to the development of a concept of operations (CONOPS) for the DSN. The University of Adelaide will collaborate with EM Solutions (Aust), the CSIRO and Altum RF International on the development of a project management plan and consideration of engineering management and risk management. The study will review the technical and commercial aspects to develop a phased array antenna prototype.