A new centre which will ready a generation of skilled workers to enter Australia’s burgeoning space industry has officially launched in Sydney.
Within a year, the ARC Training Centre for Cubesats, Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles and their Applications (CUAVA) will put its first satellite CUAVA-1 into space, on a mission to certify advanced communication, remote sensing, GPS, and space environment instruments and provide their data to users on Earth. CUAVA-1 and a second satellite under development will be deployed from the International Space Station.
The centre aims to “train and create an Australian workforce in sustainable, advanced manufacturing, space and UAV industries of national importance”.
Five PhD students and four Postdoctoral fellows are already at work within the centre.
The centre also hopes to improve the accessibility and functionality of cubesats and UAVs, which “have great commercial value, and have very low costs, making space more accessible than ever before” CUAVA said.
Among the centre’s cubesat projects is a ‘snap-together’ cubesat system and an advanced ‘plasma thruster’.
The centre will also develop “novel, miniature, world-leading imagers” for satellites and UAVs, and combine the new systems and instruments with Australia’s existing GPS expertise to provide “powerful new commercialisable data and products” for a number of applications including coastal, marine, agriculture, forestry, mining, and terrestrial and space weather. To do so the centre will also develop new data mining algorithms.
“This new training centre puts Australia on the world map for advanced manufacturing in the space industries,” said Senator Arthur Sinodinos at a launch event at The University of Sydney on Wednesday.
“The international collaboration between leading universities, government and industry will fundamentally change the capabilities and applications of cubesats, making the international satellite market more accessible and economical than ever before,” he added.
The government is backing the CUAVA with $4.6 million funding over the next five years.
The centre’s academic partners are Macquarie University, The University of New South Wales, The University of Sydney, Rochester Institute of Technology and Texas A&M University. The commercial partners involved are Air@Wave Communications, ArborCarbon, HyVista, and Saber Astronautics Australia. Japanese company, Space BD will launch the CUAVA satellites.
The Bureau of Meteorology, Defence Science and Technology Group and the NSW Office for Science and Medical Research have also backed the centre.
The launch event comes a year after the federal government established the Australian Space Agency. The agency, headquartered in Adelaide and led by former CSIRO chief executive Dr Megan Clark, has the stated goal of tripling the space sector’s contribution to Australia’s GDP to $12 billion, and creating up to 20,000 new jobs.
“Our purpose is crystal clear to us: It is to transform and grow a globally respected space industry in Australia, to do that through partnerships, and to make sure all Australians are inspired by looking up and seeing what Australia is doing in space,” Clark told the Australasia Satellite Forum in May.