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SIAA News Archive

25 February 2016


At the first Executive Council meeting for 2016 held at the University of New South Wales, Canberra the following SIAA officeholders were elected:

Chair: Michael Davis
Deputy Chairs: Jeff Kasparian and Alice Gorman
Treasurer: David Ball
Secretary: Peter Nikoloff

The outgoing Chair, Roger Franzen, was thanked for his service to the SIAA, noting that he has been active in the European and Australian space engineering industries for nearly 30 years is one of Australia's most experienced and respected space professionals. The outgoing Deputy Chair, Stephen Ward was also thanked for his input to the Executive over several years.

The incoming Chair, Michael Davis, has 24 years’ experience in space law, policy and education in the Australian and international space sectors, including as Chair of the Advisory Board of the Institute for Telecommunications Research at the University of South Australia, Co-Director of the ISU Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program and as a member of the SIAA Executive since 1998.

1 February 2016


Ernst & Young's Report 'Final evaluation of the Australian Space Research Program' was submitted to the Australian Government in November 2015.

The Report concluded that:
'Australia needs assured and secured access to space-based systems and services, not dissimilar to the need for terrestrial forms of national critical infrastructure such as utilities and transport. Government involvement in securing this access is needed. The efficacy of the market for spacebased systems and services is constrained by public good characteristics, the potential for knowledge spillover and the complexity of the space sector. Government can support access to space-based systems through a pragmatic approach that develops our space capability and builds our credibility internationally.

At the same time, there are unique features of Australia’s land mass and geography which present strategic advantages in developing niche but organic space industries, such as hosting ground station instruments.

The ASRP provided an appropriate and adequate funding source for the initial capability definition and testing of the range of space technology platforms sought by Australian industry (including academic, research and business sectors). These projects have been crucial in underpinning the more commercial (and over time, economic) elements of Australia’s space sector development in the medium term.'

To read the full report, click here

27 November 2015


The SIAA Annual General Meeting was held in Sydney on 27 November 2015. There were 21 candidates for election for 15 positions and it was necessary to hold a ballot. New members elected to the SIAA Executive Council at the AGM were Michael de la Chappelle (Boeing), Naomi Mathers (Australian National University) and Mark Ramsey. The Executive Office Holders will be elected from the members of the Executive Council at its first meeting in February 2016.

24 October 2015


The Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA) welcomes and strongly supports today’s announcement by the Hon Christopher Pyne, MP, Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, that the Space Activities Act will be reviewed.

The Act came into force in and reflected the circumstances and priorities of the time. It was predicated on the assumption that the civil space industry sector in Australia would involve large launch vehicles launching large satellites into space. This has not happened.

The risk and liability assumptions that underpin the Act in its current form are acting as a brake on the of a viable Australian space industry”, said Brett Biddington, a spokesperson for the SIAA.

The revolution in computing combined with miniaturisation and advanced manufacturing techniques now means that much smaller, but capable, satellites can be built. These satellites can also act as concept demonstrators and test-beds for larger systems.

There are a number of Australian entrepreneurs and start-up companies just champing at the bit to move space projects forward. There are active cubesat (10cm x 10cm x 10cm satellites) projects at several Australian universities that have significant potential to stimulate technology transfer and new business models for Australian firms. There is now the infrastructure in Australia to fabricate, test and qualify small satellites and space-based sensors. Also there are several Australian launch proposals under development.

Mr Biddington said that the review of the Act could not have come at a better time. Industry is primed and the review of the Act promises to stimulate 21st Century industry development and innovation and a sector of increasing importance to the national economy. There is also important export potential.

The SIAA is committed to working closely with Government on the review and will encourage its members and other interested parties to participate in the public consultation process to achieve the best possible outcome.

14 August 2015


As the peak organisation responsible for speaking on behalf of the Australian space industry, the SIAA has responded to comments made by the Assistant Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, on the ABC's Q&A program about the current state of the Australian space sector. According to SIAA Chair, Roger Franzen, 'the SIAA believes that It is important that the level of support currently provided for our national space activities is fully understood, so that it can be accurately compared with the level of support for similar activities in other countries. This will help to place our current activities in context.'

To read the full statement click here

3 June 2015


Collaborators secure over US$500 million for historic project to build giant optical telescope

PASADENA, Calif. – June 3, 2015— The Giant Magellan Telescope Organization has announced today that its 11 international partners have committed more than US$500 million to begin construction of the first of a new generation of extremely large telescopes. Once it is built, the Giant Magellan Telescope is poised to be the largest optical telescope in the world.

The Giant Magellan Telescope’s seven mirrors span 25 meters and will focus more than six times the amount of light of the current largest optical telescopes into images up to 10 times sharper than those of the Hubble Space Telescope. The GMT will enable astronomers to look deeper into space and further back in time than ever before. The telescope is expected to see first light in 2021 and be fully operational by 2024.

"The GMT will herald the beginning of a new era in astronomy. It will reveal the first objects to emit light in the universe, explore the mysteries of dark energy and dark matter, and identify potentially habitable planets in the Earth’s galactic neighborhood," said Wendy Freedman, chair of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) Board of Directors and University Professor of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. "The decision by the GMTO partner institutions to start construction is a crucial milestone on our journey to making these amazing discoveries using state-of-the-art science, technology and engineering."

GMTO President Edward Moses said, "The GMT is a global scientific collaboration, with institutional partners in Australia, Brazil, Korea, the United States, and in host nation Chile. The construction approval means work will begin on the telescope’s core structure and the scientific instruments that lie at the heart of this US$1 billion project. Early preparation for construction has included groundwork at the mountaintop site at Las Campanas in northern Chile, and initial fabrication of the telescope’s seven enormous primary mirror segments."

Professor Matthew Colless, Vice Chair of the Board of Directors and Director of the Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics at The Australian National University, said the construction approval was an exciting moment for astronomy.

"Plans that have existed only in two dimensions or as computer models are about to become a three--- dimensional reality in glass, steel, and high---tech semiconductor and composite materials," said Colless. "The Giant Magellan Telescope will provide astronomers and astrophysicists with the opportunity to truly transform our view of the universe and our place within it."

To access the video news package including interviews with GMTO partners and b-roll, as well as images and video graphics of the Giant Magellan Telescope, please visit: www.gmto.org/gallery

About the Giant Magellan Telescope

The Giant Magellan Telescope (GMT) is slated to be the first in a new class of extremely large telescopes, capable of producing images with 10 times the clarity of those captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. The GMT aims to discover Earth---like planets around nearby stars and the tiny distortions that black holes cause in the light from distant stars and galaxies. It will reveal the faintest objects ever seen in space, including extremely distant and ancient galaxies, the light from which has been travelling to Earth since shortly after the Big Bang, 13.8 billion years ago. The telescope will be built at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Las Campanas Observatory in the dry, clear air of Chile’s Atacama Desert, in a dome 22 stories high. GMT is expected to see first light in 2021 and be fully operational by 2024.

The telescope’s 25.4 meter (82 feet) primary mirror will comprise seven separate 8.4 meter (27 feet) diameter segments. Each mirror segment weighs 17 tons and takes one year to cast and cool, followed by more than three years of surface generation and meticulous polishing at the Richard F. Caris Mirror Lab of the Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona in Tucson, Ariz. Funding for the project comes from the partner institutions, governments and private donors.

About the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization

The Giant Magellan Telescope Organization (GMTO) manages the GMT project on behalf of its international partners: Astronomy Australia Ltd., The Australian National University, Carnegie Institution for Science, Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo, Harvard University, Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute, Smithsonian Institution, Texas A&M University, The University of Arizona, The University of Chicago, and The University of Texas at Austin.

Connect with the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization on social media: gplus.to/gmtelescope, twitter.com/GMTelescope, facebook.com/GMTelescope and visit http://www.gmto.org

Business contacts:
Edward Moses
President of the Giant Magellan Telescope Organization
(+1) 626-204-0555

Wendy Freedman
Chair, Board of Directors
Giant Magellan Telescope Organization
(+1) 773-834-5651

Matthew Colless
Vice-Chair, Board of Director
Giant Magellan Telescope Organization Director
Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics
The Australian National University
(+61) 2-6125-0266

14 May 2015


The Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA) has unveiled the logo for the International Astronautical Congress to be held in Adelaide in 2017 and announced the team who will bring the event to fruition.The IAC2017 logo, unveiled by Minister Gago representing the Premier of South Australia at a function held at the Adelaide Oval represents both Australia’s indigenous heritage as well as the stars highlight the Astronautical Industry and the nation’s flag.

Chair of the Space Industry Association, Mr Roger Franzen also announced the local organising committee who will be working globally to promote the overall event, promote Adelaide as a destination, encourage attendance by interested and relevant parties from around the world, liaise with national and international organisations who will participate in the exhibition being held alongside the congress and of course stage and manage an incredible event. The organising committee will be advised by and consult with Andy Thomas throughout the process. (See list below)

This congress will bring $20m to South Australia and is the largest international conference to date to name Adelaide as its host city. The population of the Adelaide CBD will increase by an expected 3000 delegates during the 5 day congress which is a huge undertaking for organisers - one that will take every minute of the 2 year lead time. The event, to be held in the week of 25-29 Sep 2017, follows closely on the opening of the final stage of the $350m redevelopment of the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Special guests at the cocktail function included representatives from the event’s anchor sponsor the Lockheed Martin Corporation, including from the USA, Mrs Mary Snitch and Ms Lyn Hansen as well as Mr Raydon Gates, CEO of Lockheed Martin Australia. Mrs Snitch and Ms Hansen had flown into Adelaide on a familiarisation tour of the city and its conferencing facilities and hotels.

Mr Gates said “Lockheed Martin is honoured to support IAC2017 in Adelaide and looks forward to helping the local organising committee deliver a Congress that is both memorable for delegates and advances the Australian space industry”

Mr Roger Franzen, Chair SIAA said “Australia has a proud but not well-documented heritage in space. Much activity has been in the national security domain and is shrouded in secrecy. In South Australia, the missile projects at Woomera, especially in the 1950’s and 60’s, contributed to our space heritage.

“The space industry today touches our lives in more ways than ever before with our reliance on satellites in particular. The global economy has fundamental dependencies on satellites, as do individuals. We take for granted, the services provided by communications, timing and navigation and Earth observation and remote sensing satellites. We also wonder at the far universe as we learn more about it through the Hubble space telescope and ground based telescopes, including those located in Australia that continue to push the boundaries of human knowledge and understanding” he said.

The IAC2017 will most certainly focus the attention of the world on Adelaide and Australia’s contribution to the latest developments in the Space and Astronautical industry.

The local organising committee for IAC2017 includes experts from South Australia and interstate. The team is:
• Mr Roger Franzen, Chair of the SIAA and Chair of the Local Organising Committee
• Mr Michael Davis, who is especially active in space education
• Mr David Ball, Treasurer of the SIAA
• Dr Alice Gorman from Flinders University
• Mr Jeff Kasparian
• Dr Naomi Mathers
• Mr Peter Nikoloff
• Mr (former Senator) Chris Schacht
• Mrs Mary Snitch from Lockheed Martin Corporation
• Mr Brett Biddington – has the day-to-day responsibility of ensuring the success of IAC2017
• Ms Anne-Marie Quinn. - CEO of the All Occasions Group, an Adelaide-based company that beat tough competition, including from international companies to be selected as the conference organiser to assist the SIAA in delivering the congress

27 November 2014


The SIAA Annual General Meeting was held in Sydney on 27 November 2014. Once again there were more candidates for election (20) than positions (15) and it was necessary to hold a ballot.

Members elected to the SIAA Executive Council at the AGM were: David Ball, Bill Barrett, Nigel Basheer, Russell Boyce, Michael Davis, Andrew Dempster,Rod Drury, Roger Franzen, Alice Gorman, Kirby Ikin, Jeff Kasparian, Peter Nikoloff, Chris Schacht, Jack Scott, Stephen Ward.

3 October 2014


The Space Industry Association of Australia’s bid to host the world’s most prestigious space congress has been successful.

Against stiff competition, Adelaide Australia was chosen today as the venue of the International Astronautical Congress in September 2017 by the General Assembly of the International Astronautical Federation, meeting in Toronto. Over 3,000 international delegates will attend the week long congress in Adelaide at the newly redeveloped Adelaide Convention Centre, providing a significant economic boost to the local economy.

The successful bid was the culmination of a four year campaign on behalf of the Australian space community to promote the importance of space science and technology to Australia’s future by attracting this major industry event.

The bid was strongly supported by the Government of South Australia and key anchor sponsor, Lockheed Martin Corporation. The Australian Government, through the Department of Industry and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, was also a key supporter, together with the 60 corporate, university and individual members of the SIAA and the 11 Australian institutional members of the International Astronautical Federation.

The Chair of the SIAA, Michael Davis, said the successful bid was due to a fantastic team effort, coordinated by the bid leader, Brett Biddington AM, and ably supported by the Adelaide Convention Bureau. “The decision to award the Congress to Australia demonstrates that Australia is highly regarded as an emerging player in the international space community. We have been given the opportunity to demonstrate to the world we making an important contribution as an industry to the economic and social well-being of our own nation as well as to the international effort to harness the benefits of space science and technology to combat global problems.”

Mr Biddington added that the 2017 Congress will be aiming point for the Australian space community in its efforts to implement a coherent national program to take advantage of our extensive scientific and engineering capabilities. “This will enable us to obtain a greater share in the benefits of the $300 billion global space economy and ensure that our local space industry participates in the transition to a national economy that takes full advantage of scientific research and advanced technology to create new industry opportunities and rewarding careers for young Australians.”

To download this announcement click here.

For further information:

Brett Biddington
CEO, IAC2017 Organising Committee
0401 890368

email: contactus@spaceindustry.com.au

5 July 2014

SIAA launches Young Professionals AUSTRALIAN Space INDUSTRY Experience Survey

The Space Industry Association of Australia is working to put together a program that makes it easier for the best young professionals in the Australian space sector to get space experience internationally.   The program is intended to match young professionals with US and European companies with significant space engineering activities for short term internships or longer term graduate style programs. 

By participating in this survey, you're helping us to make sure the program is designed to meet the needs of young space professionals and university students. 

The survey can be accessed here.

The survey is anonymous(unless you choose otherwise). 

Please answer accurately and honestly - it will help us build a program that matches your needs. 

There are 10 $20 iTunes gift cards to be won if you complete the full survey (note that this requires sharing your details with us so that we have somewhere to email the gift card!)  

The survey should take about 20 minutes to complete.

28 April 2014


The Chair of the SIAA, Michael Davis, was pleased to announce that the SIAA's formal proposal for Adelaide Australia to host the International Astronautical Congress in 2017 has been received by the International Astronautical Federation in Paris.

Click here to visit the bid website

22 November 2013


The SIAA Annual General Meeting was held in Sydney on 14 November 2013.
Members elected to the SIAA Executive Council at the AGM were: David Ball, Nigel Basheer, Brett Biddington, Michael Brett, Russell Boyce, Michael Davis, Andrew Dempster, Rod Drury, Roger Franzen, Jason Held,  Kirby Ikin, Jeff Kasparian, Chris Schacht, Jack Scott and  Stephen Ward.

For more details of the Executive Council members, click here.

The Executive Office Holders will be elected from the members of the Executive Council at its first meeting in February 2014.


11 July 2013

SIAA offers one year's complimentary membership for Young Professionals

The SIAA at its Executive Council Meeting on 11 July 2013 in Adelaide decided to create a new category of membership for young professionals embarking upon careers in the space industry in lieu of its student category.

As an incentive to join the SIAA and participate in its activities, young professionals  under the age of 30, including undergraduates, upon joining the SIAA will be offered one year's complimentary membership.

The new membership offer was announced by the SIAA Chair, Michael Davis, at the AYAA Aerospace Futures Conference on 12 July. In announcing the new category, Mr Davis noted that undergraduates interested in space are well served by other space-related associations including the AYAA and the AIAA but that membership of the SIAA will enable young professionals also to have their say in the policy formulation and advocacy role that the SIAA leads in Australia.

To download the membership application form click here.


9 April 2013


A significant milestone milestone in the history of Australian space took place today – the launch of the national Satellite Utilisation Policy by Minister responsible for space, Kate Lundy.

Highlights of the announcement were:

  • A recognition that on-going cost effective access to satellite capabilities is essential to Australia’s future
  • A recognition that this requires partnerships with other countries and commercial suppliers
  • An understanding of the economic benefits for the nation of its use of satellite technologies, especially in the fields of satellite imagery and positioning
  • The establishment from 1 July 12013 of a new Space Coordination Office in the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education. It will be responsible for ‘coordinating Australia's domestic civilian space activities and showcasing that excellence’.

The focus of the national Satellite Utilisation Policy is on:

  • Giving priority to earth observations from space, satellite communications, and position, navigation and timing
  • Contributing to international 'rules of the road' for space through Australian space situational awareness infrastructure and diplomatic efforts
  • Building and retaining high quality Australian space expertise and
  • Developing a plan to meet projected growth in Australia's satellite information needs by modernising and consolidating Australia's ground infrastructure.

The Chair of the SIAA, Michael Davis, was co-facilitator of  the Australian Space Research Program showcase event at Mount Stromlo immediately following the announcement. He took the opportunity to congratulate the government and the Space Policy Unit on the policy announcement and to express the association's willingness as the peak industry representative body to work with the government in the implementation of the policy and the further development of the Australian space industry. The ASRP showcase event was very well organised and the benefits to Australia generated by the ASRP were clearly articulated and acknowledged.

For further details see:

- the Minister’s media release (no longer available)

- the policy document

For comment on Australian space industry issues contact:

Michael Davis
Chair, Space Industry Association of Australia
0419 170251


12 February 2013


The SIAA has welcomed a new leadership committee for 2013.

Michael Davis has been appointed the Chair of the SIAA bringing with him a wealth of experience as a legal practitioner in the Australian space industry and in other sectors. A graduate of the Master of Space Studies program at the International Space University, he have been involved in a wide range of space related pursuits including chairing the Advisory Board of the UniSA institute of Telecommunications Research, attending UN and ITU space meetings, representing Australian and overseas clients involved in commercial launch, satellite and other space-related projects, co-authoring policy submissions on behalf of the association and organising the 2004 ISU Space Studies Program and the 2011, 21012 and 2013 Southern Hemisphere Summer Space Programs in Adelaide.

Mr Davis will be assisted by the following office holders who were re-elected at the same meeting Deputy Chairs Roger Franzen and Stephen Ward, Secretary Michael Brett and Treasurer David Ball.

On taking the Chair, Mr Davis recognised the hard work of the association’s outgoing Chair, Brett Biddington, for his leadership in developing a voice for Australia’s space industry over many years and leading its introduction and participation in the IAF. The organisation is looking forward assisting with developments locally, including the imminent announcement of a new national space policy for Australia.


17 November 2010


At the Annual General Meeting held on 17 November 2010 the resolutions to change ASICC's name to Space Industry Association of Australia Inc, and to make other changes to the Constitution were passed unanimously.

The steps required to obtain approval for the change of name from the relevant government agency will now be taken.

In related news, informal SATCOM and Earth Observation sub-groups of the Association are being convened. Expressions of interest from the Australian space community are welcome.

The ASICC Chair, Brett Biddington, in a report to members said 'I will keep you advised of developments as the SIAA charts a course which develops and promotes the industry narrative in support of the Government's manifest and growing understanding of the importance of space to myriad aspects of national life and livelihood'.


4 May 2009

ASICC Space Industry Forum in Adelaide attracts over 50 space industry Enthusiasts

Over 50 space industry enthusiasts attended a Space Industry Forum on 'The Politics of Space in Australia' at the University of South Australia in Adelaide on the evening of 4th May 2009. The panellists were Senator Annette Hurley, Chair of the Senate Economics Committee, Mr Grant Chapman, former parliamentarian and author of 'Space: A Priority for Australia' and Mr Chris Schacht, former Minister in the Hawke and Keating Governments. The facilitator was ASICC Chair, Brett Biddington.

The audience participated in a lively debate about the future directions of space policy in Australia, the importance of political support for a whole of government approach to space and was entertained by the recollections of Chris Schacht and Grant Chapman in relation to previous attempts to garner government support for space activities.

The participants were left to ponder a critical question - should space policy in Australia be driven by arguments that highlight the economic and social benefits of investing in space related projects or should the emphasis be on the utility and benefits of applications such as remote sensing, surveillance, geo-positioning, environmental monitoring etc without drawing attention to the fact that they may depend on space technologies?


15 November 2008

Senate Report - A Blueprint for Australia's Space Future

The Senate Economics Committee's report ‘Lost in Space? Setting a new direction for Australia's space science and industry sector’ was tabled in the Senate this week.

The Australian Space Industry Chamber of Commerce (ASICC), the country’s peak space industry representative body, welcomes the report and enthusiastically endorses its recommendations.

The Committee has produced a blueprint for Australia to participate in a global space industry that has revenues of US$250 billion per annum.

The report highlights Australia’s capabilities and experience in niche areas of space science and space technologies and notes the public benefits that would result from a greater national investment in space-related activities that would support meteorology and climate change monitoring, mining and farming, defence, coastal surveillance and transport.

ASICC has long argued that Australia would benefit from a greater government commitment to a long term space program.

We welcome the Committee’s recommendation that there should be a partnership of Government, industry, Defence and academic stakeholders to develop a strategic plan for the establishment of a national space agency.

We firmly believe that active and broad participation by industry on the proposed Space Industry Advisory Council will be an essential element for furthering Australia's space capabilities, and we look forward to working actively with the Government as a key member of the Council.

To read the Senate Report click here.

To read ASICC's Submission to the Senate Inquiry click here.


23 June 2008


The Senate Economics Committee released its Interim Report into Australia’s Space Science and Industry Sector on 23 June. A copy can be downloaded by following this link.

The Interim Report extracts some of the key points from the 80 submissions received and also highlights some important evidence arising from the appearances before the Committee.

The Committee has invited supplementary submissions addressing the key questions posed in the interim report. Further public hearings are to be conducted before the preparation of a final report which is due in October.

ASICC will be monitoring the ongoing activities of this Committee and we will prepare a supplementary submission.


1 May 2008


ASICC's Submission to the Senate Inquiry into The Current State of Australia's Space Science & Industry Sector has been released and can be downloaded by following this link.


19 March 2008

Inquiry into The Current State of Australia's Space Science & Industry Sector

On 19 March 2008, the Senate referred the following matter to the Senate Standing Committee on Economics for report no later than October 2008 with an interim report by 23 June 2008:

The current state of Australia's space science and industry sector, examining options to strengthen and expand Australia's position in fields that strongly align with space science and industry, giving consideration to any national strategic coordination requirements and taking into account findings and policy options of the National Innovation System Review, with particular reference to:

Australia's capabilities in space science, industry and education, including:
- existing Australian activity of world-class standard, and areas in which there is currently little or no activity but that are within the technical and intellectual capacity of the country;
- arguments for and against expanded Australian activity in space science and industry, including:
- an assessment of the risks to Australia's national interest of Australia's dependence on foreign-owned and operated satellites,
- the potential benefits that could accrue to Australia through further development of our space capability,
- economic, social, environmental, national security and other needs that are not being met or are in danger of not being met by Australia's existing space resources or access to foreign resources,
- impediments to strengthening and expanding space science and industry in Australia, including limiting factors relating to spatial information and global positioning systems, including but not limited to ground infrastructures, intergovernmental arrangements, legislative arrangements and government/industry coordination, and
- the goals of any strengthening and expansion of Australia's space capability both in the private sector and across government; and
- realistic policy options that facilitate effective solutions to cross-sector technological and organisational challenges, opportunity capture and development imperatives that align with national need and in consideration of existing world-class capability.

The Committee invites written submissions which should be sent to:

Committee Secretary
Senate Economics Committee
Department of the Senate
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600


19 September 2007

FedSat falls silent - mission ends for Australia’s science satellite

Launched in December 2002 as Australia’s first 21st century satellite, FedSat has finally ceased operations, a full year later than expected and after completing 20,000 orbits of the earth (about one billion kilometers).

The Australian satellite was developed by the Cooperative Research Centre for Satellite Systems (CRCSS) as a scientific or research satellite and was launched at the Tanegashima Space Centre in Japan.

Contact was lost with the satellite by the ground station at UniSA’s Institute for Telecommunications Research a few months ago, after the first signs that the batteries were finally failing and unable to continue to supply power to keep the satellite functioning.

The FedSat mission was the first Australian scientific satellite placed in orbit for more than 30 years and was used by the research community to gather data on space weather and radiowave propagation. The 58 kg satellite (the size of a bar fridge) also carried instruments used to test new communications technologies and self-healing space computers.

Former CEO of the CRC for Satellite Systems, UniSA’s Pro Vice Chancellor for IT Engineering and the Environment, Professor Andrew Parfitt says FedSat represented a bold initiative by Australian researchers to re-engage directly in space science and technology.

“The FedSat mission provided valuable experimental infrastructure and a wealth of scientific data that will continue to be of use,” Prof Parfitt says.

“Unfortunately the demise of FedSat means we no longer have a space asset with which to conduct new science - at least for the time being.”

With the closure of the CRCSS in December 2005, the Australian Government through the Department of Defence assumed ownership of FedSat in order to extend the initial three-year mission and gather further scientific data for the benefit of the Australian research community.

“The extra data collected has added to the already considerable FedSat legacy,” Prof Parfitt says.

“The Australian space science community is now developing its first decadal plan to ensure that Australia remains engaged in space science and technology at an appropriate level.”


18 October 2006

US Announces New National Space Policy

For the first time in ten years the US President has enunciated a new over-arching space policy for the US Government.

According to the new policy document, authorised by President Bush on 31st August 2006, the conduct of US space programs and activities will be a top priority, guided by principles that include a commitment to the exploration and use of outer space by all nations for peaceful purposes and the rejection of any claims to sovereignty over outer space.

However in a notable development in its international space policy, the US now explicitly asserts a right to preserve its rights, capability and freedom of action in space including taking those actions necessary to preserve its space capabilities and denying adversaries the use of space capabilities hostile to US national interests.

To download a copy of the policy document, click here.


18 October 2006


An interesting paper was presented recently at the Space 2006 Conference on the results of a  business case study of the emerging entrepreneurial space industry in the U.S.

One of the conclusions is that the commercial space industry in the US is slowly developing into a purely private and sustainable marketplace. Indications include the fact that private spending on space-related activities has now surpassed that of the government. However, the high cost and high risk, low operational flexibility of launching a payload to orbit remains one of the greatest barriers for an expanding commercial space market, particularly in view of the global oversupply of launch services.

Other observations in the paper include the following:

  • Non-traditional investors are entering the industry. According to the authors, 'These tend to be high net worth individuals who are not solely driven by profit incentive, but also by personal interest, altruism, and a desire to challenge the establishment and make a difference in the industry.'

  • While multiple players are pursuing the sub-orbital tourism market, there is a high degree of demand uncertainty as to the number of passengers and at what price point will drive the industry and there are significant regulatory and legal hurdles that have yet to be overcome.

  • Space ventures enjoy public fascination and bipartisan support. This should continue to be strong as space tourism industry ramps up. Non-market risks are minimal and manageable.

To download a copy of the paper, click here.


29 May 2006

ASICC promoteS Australian participation in microsat missions

During a recent visit to Australia, the Canadian aerospace company ComDev presented a novel concept which might enable Australian organisations to collaborate with the Canadian Space Agency and ComDev on microsatellite missions.  

ASICC provided ComDev’s representative, Mr. Richard Kolacz, with a number of industry contacts and co-hosted a presentation to the Sydney based space community at CSIRO Industrial Physics in Lindfield on 4 May 2006.

The Canadian Space Agency plans to launch a microsatellite every two years. ComDev will be the provider of the satellite bus and will arrange the launch and it has invited Australia to participate in defining the missions and developing the payloads.  This type of collaboration has the potential to significantly lower the actual cost required for Australian participation to a few million dollars per program.

Commenting on the visit, ASICC’s Deputy Chair, Bill Barrett said:
“From my individual discussions with the attendees and Mr. Kolacz it seems that the concept of a collaborative approach to microsat projects coordinated by ComDev and the Canadian Space Agency has generated a lot of interest, particularly since it has the potential to enable Australian concepts and instruments to participate in space missions for significantly reduced costs." 

"The meeting also served an important secondary purpose in bringing together many space interested organisations and individuals based in Sydney who had not met each other before.  This is one of the key goals of ASICC and from that perspective ASICC feels that this meeting was a great success”  Mr Barrett added.


25 January 2006

ASICC Chairman Welcomes National Space Policy Initiative

The Chairman of the Australian Space Industry Chamber of Commerce, Kirby Ikin, today welcomed Senator Grant Chapman's call for a whole of government national space policy.

"The fact that Senator Chapman has received positive responses from the Prime Minister and other Cabinet Ministers to his recent submission is very good news for the Australian space community" Mr Ikin said.

"I congratulate Senator Chapman on his untiring efforts as an advocate for the space industry and in his initiative in establishing the Space Policy Advisory Group involving many of the leading Australian space players."

"ASICC played a key role in its deliberations. The Space Policy Advisory Group was chaired ASICC Executive Council member, Roy Sach, and Executive Council members Roger Franzen, Bill Barrett, Michael Davis, John Douglas, Andrew Parfitt and Brett Biddington were all contributors to the submission."

"We await the outcome of the Government's deliberations. We are convinced that the time is right for the Government to recognise the importance of a strategic space policy that will protect our vital national interests and recognise the importance of Australia as a participant, rather than as a spectator, in the international space community."


 20 January 2006

SPACE: A Priority for Australia

"Australia's national security and strategic interests, spanning most government portfolios and essential industry sectors, demand nationally coordinated action on space-related issues," Senator Grant Chapman (Liberal SA), Chairman of the Federal Government's Industry and Resources Committee, said today.

This call for action came in Senator Chapman’s space policy submission ‘SPACE: A PRIORITY FOR AUSTRALIA’, which he has presented for consideration by the Prime Minister and Cabinet Ministers over the coming months.

Since April 2005, Senator Chapman has developed the submission and established his Space Policy Advisory Group made up of academic, industry and other experts from across Australia to assist.

Senator Chapman has been a long-standing advocate on space policy issues.

“Australia has not assessed the strategic importance and relevance of space and, therefore, has been unable to make well-informed, nationally coordinated decisions on space-related issues," Senator Chapman said.

"It will be fundamentally important to make a policy agency, such as the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, responsible for overseeing an Australian space policy framework.

"Present arrangements are not in our best national interests.

"Failure to take appropriate nationally coordinated action will be to our peril.

"My submission calls for action,” Senator Chapman said.

“It is not immediately apparent that we are so reliant on space-based and space-related technologies.

“Space technologies are essential to resolve vital national interest issues which span a wide range of portfolios together with products and services used by industry, government and citizens.

* To download an Executive Summary of ‘SPACE: A PRIORITY FOR AUSTRALIA’, click here


11 January 2006

ESA and ANU Develop New Ion Engine

The European Space Agency and the Australian National University have successfully tested a new design of spacecraft ion engine that dramatically improves performance over present thrusters and marks a major step forward in space propulsion capability. 

Ion engines are a form of electric propulsion and work by accelerating a beam of positively charged particles (or ions) away from the spacecraft using an electric field. ESA is currently using electric propulsion on its Moon mission, SMART-1. The new engine is over ten times more fuel efficient than the one used on SMART-1. "Using a similar amount of propellant as SMART-1, with the right power supply, a future spacecraft using our new engine design wouldn't just reach the Moon, it would be able to leave the Solar System entirely," says Dr Roger Walker of ESA's Advanced Concepts Team, Research Fellow in Advanced Propulsion and Technical Manager of the project.

The new experimental engine, called the Dual-Stage 4-Grid (DS4G) ion thruster, was designed and built under a contract with ESA in the extremely short time of four months by a dedicated team at the Australian National University. "The success of the DS4G prototype shows what can be achieved with the passion and drive of a capable and committed team. It was an incredible experience to work with ESA to transform such an elegant idea into a record-breaking reality", says Dr. Orson Sutherland, the engine's designer and head of the development team at the ANU. During November 2005, the DS4G engine was tested for the first time in ESA's Electric Propulsion Laboratory at ESTEC in the Netherlands, with support from Dr Sutherland and ESA test engineers.

Traditional ion engines use three closely separated perforated grids containing thousands of millimetre-sized holes attached to a chamber containing a reservoir of the charged particles. The first grid has thousands of volts applied, and the second grid operates at low voltage. The voltage difference over the gap between the two grids creates an electric field that acts to simultaneously extract and accelerate the ions out of the chamber and into space in a single step. The higher the voltage difference, the faster the ions are expelled and the greater the fuel efficiency of the thruster. However, at higher voltage differences approaching five thousand volts (5kV), some of the ions collide with the second grid as they are accelerated, thus eroding and damaging the grid and thereby limiting its lifetime in space.

The DS4G ion engine utilises a different concept first proposed in 2001 by David Fearn, a pioneer of ion propulsion in the UK, which solves this limitation by performing a two-stage process to decouple the extraction and acceleration of ions using four grids. In the first stage, the first two grids are closely spaced and both are operated at very high voltage and a low voltage difference between the two (3 kV) enables the ions to be safely extracted from the chamber without hitting the grids. Then, in the second stage, two more grids are positioned at a greater distance 'downstream' and operated at low voltages. The high voltage difference between the two pairs of grids powerfully accelerates the extracted ions.

The test model achieved voltage differences as high as 30kV and produced an ion exhaust plume that travelled at 210,000 m/s, over four times faster than state-of-the-art ion engine designs achieve. This makes it four times more fuel efficient, and also enables an engine design which is many times more compact than present thrusters, allowing the design to be scaled up in size to operate at high power and thrust. Due to the very high acceleration, the ion exhaust plume was very narrow, diverging by only 3 degrees, which is five times narrower than present systems. This reduces the fuel needed to correct the orientation of spacecraft from small uncertainties in the thrust direction.

There is of course still a great deal of work to be done before the new engine design can fly in space. "Working with our industrial partners, the next challenge is to transition this promising new engine design from laboratory experiment to spacecraft flight model and properly define the new missions that it will enable", says José Gonzalez del Amo, Head of Electric Propulsion at ESA. The flight-suitable engines must then be tested: and for ion engines this is a long process.

Since they must operate continuously in space for tens of thousands of hours providing a small thrust, ground tests in a vacuum facility must last several thousand hours to prove their reliability. Only after all this could the first flight models be launched.

Once ready, these engines will be able to propel spacecraft to the outermost planets, the newly discovered planetoids beyond Pluto and even further, into the unknown realm of interstellar space beyond the Solar System. Closer to home, these supercharged ion engines could figure prominently in the human exploration of space. With an adequate supply of electrical power, a small cluster of larger, high power versions of the new engine design would provide enough thrust to propel a crewed spacecraft to Mars and back.

"This is an ultra-ion engine. It has exceeded the current crop by many times and opens up a whole new frontier of exploration possibilities," says Dr Walker.



2nd June 2005



While Mars Express is searching for water ice beneath the surface of Mars, European Space Agency ground-penetrating radar technology will be searching for water and measuring salinity beneath the surface of Western Australia.

Being able to detect underground water from the air and to determine its salinity is of great interest for the management of water resources in Australia. The Australian Space Network (ASN) and the Australian Space Industry Chamber of Commerce (ASICC) are pleased to announce that ground-penetrating radar trials are planned to be held in Western Australia later this year to see which of three competing systems is the most suitable for water detection and salinity measurement.

This study is the result of a series of workshops held over the last year aimed at applying space technology developed for European Space Agency (ESA) projects to the minerals, mining and exploration sector here in Australia. “ESA has a well-developed technology transfer practice, including a specialty in mining and exploration.” said Philip Young, Coordinator of the Australian Space Network, “They were happy to participate in these workshops organised by ASICC and ASN through an Innovation Access Program Grant from the Department of Industry, Science and Resources. The workshops demonstrated that leading edge technologies developed for space use have direct application here on earth. The capabilities of modern ground penetrating radar units generated a lot of interest from in the resources sector and it was even more pleasing to see the interest shown by environmentalists and agricultural researchers.”

While the pilot project to identify underground water should lead to a reasonable airborne survey business with benefits to the mining community, the big payoff for Australia could well come from better understanding of ground water and salinity, particularly in Western Australia where water has surfaced as a political issue.

Another high priority area is mine safety. When material is removed from underground, the surrounding rock becomes stressed. Cracks develop and if they are not detected in time for the mine to be strengthened in the right places, it is possible to have catastrophic collapses. Cave-ins can cost lives, damage machinery and cause extended mine closures, with costs of up to $50,000 for each hour of down-time. ESA, working with Mirarco of Canada and RST Radar Systemtechnik of Germany, has had great success using hand-held ground-penetrating units to detect cracks in potash mines in Canada. A feasibility study being considered is to see whether similar results can be achieved in coal mines in eastern Australia.

The third project under active consideration generated from the workshops is to develop a more accurate gravity meter. Airborne gravity surveys have proven to be extremely valuable in mineral exploration, not so much for direct detection of minerals but as a useful method of characterising the geology of the area being surveyed. This, when combined with other geophysical knowledge and techniques, improves the probability of exploration success. Changes in the gravity field are subtle and data from existing instruments tend to be distorted due to factors such as turbulence around the aircraft. While GPS signals are used to good effect at the moment, there remain limitations on the resolution of the information acquired. Development of a better instrument, employing different techniques and using the Galileo navigation satellite network, will take some time but will result in a more accurate instrument that could lead to discoveries of minerals and gas fields worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

There is a common view that investments in space might be of interest to scientists but do not benefit the economy as a whole. According to Young, nothing could be further from the truth. These workshops prove that space technology has direct application here on earth for one of Australia’s biggest industries, the resource sector. “ESA’s total annual budget is around €5 billion. The benefits of a major resource discovery in Australia could meet or even exceed that figure. The social benefits derived from a better understanding of agriculture, pollutant flows, weather and better water management could be even greater. The technologies developed for space can often have an even greater impact when employed here on earth.


Philip Young
Network Coordinator, Australian Space Network
Member of the Executive Council, Australian Space Industry Chamber of Commerce
0412 018 410


17 February 2005

NASA's New Procurement Policy - Space Opportunities for Australia


NASA is actively seeking international collaboration as part of the new NASA initiative to return to the Moon and Mars. This is highlighted by a directive from NASA to purchase the best goods and services for each mission regardless of where they are located in the world. This is a dramatic shift away from NASA's previous "buy American only" policy and opens the door to NASA for Australian organisations.

In an attempt to understand the capabilities and interests of organisations around the world NASA is conducting a series of high-level workshops as a means of identifying key capabilities and to allow a registration of interest for participation in various NASA programs along the way to the overall goal. The first of these workshops took place in Washington, D.C. from 16-18 November 2004. This workshop was by invitation only and was directed to the Space Agencies of the world.

Despite the lack of a Space Agency, Australia is seen as a key country by NASA and received an invitation to attend. The invitation was extended to the CSIRO and Dr. Grant Griffiths, Assistant Chief of CSIRO Industrial Physics, represented Australia at this forum. As a result of this initial workshop NASA has established 20 points of contact (POC's) for distributing information. Most of these POC's are within the major space agencies worldwide. NASA is very keen to engage organisations in Australia and despite the fact that Australia does not have a Space Agency NASA has nevertheless established a POC in Australia through CSIRO Industrial Physics in the person of Grant Griffiths. ASICC is also working directly with NASA and CSIRO to help distribute the information and to find ways to maximise the opportunity for Australian organisations.

The next NASA workshop is the Space Science Directorate Workshop in Washington on 9-10 March 2005. This is by invitation only and Australia will be represented. On 11 March 2005 NASA will conduct an Industry Day in Washington to brief interested organisations on its needs for the new mission requirements. This is open to any organisation worldwide that is interested in participating in the NASA initiatives. Interested organisations are invited to register at a website on a first come, first served basis. The website is under construction and the access details will be made available when these are released.


NASA has a specific list of capabilities that are considered essential to these new missions. NASA would like countries to comment on their current capabilities in the following fields and their ability to be utilised in support of the planned missions. Note that capability in many of these areas need not necessarily be space qualified at the moment, i.e. a strong background in robotics would be of interest even if there has been no focus on work in space.

1. High-Energy Power and Propulsion
2. In-Space Transportation
3. Advanced Telescopes and Observatories
4. Communication and Navigation
5. Robotic Access to Planetary Surfaces
6. Human Planetary Landing Systems
7. Human Health and Support Systems
8. Human Exploration Systems and Mobility
9. Autonomous Systems and Robotics
10. Transformational Spaceport/Range
11. Scientific Instruments/Sensors
12. In Situ Resource Utilization
13. Advanced Modelling, Simulation, Analysis
14. Systems Engineering Cost/Risk Analysis
15. Nanotechnology

ASICC is in the process of compiling a database of Australian organisations with expertise in the above fields in an effort to promote Australian capabilities in these NASA projects. If your organisation is interested in being included in this database please email our Deputy Chairman, Bill Barrett,  with your relevant contact details and information about your capabilities in the relevant areas of the NASA list. ASICC will incorporate this into our database for use in the ongoing discussions with NASA.