Sunday, February 28, 2010

Australian Space Research Program - Round 1

Friday saw Innovation Minister Kim Carr announce the four successful projects for round 1 funding under the new Australia Space Research Program.

The round 1 winners include:

Pathways to Space: empowering the internet generation
which includes Uni of NSW, Uni of Sydney, Powerhouse Museum and Cisco Systems Australia, who have received a total funding of just under $1 Million.

The project is intended to promote space related science and engineering careers to year 10 to 12 students, through the setup of a "living laboratory" at the Powerhouse museum. It also includes links to be established with both the Australia Centre for Field Robotics and the Australian Centre for Astrobiology.

Scramjet-based access-to-space systems
which includes a whole host of players such as the University of Queensland, the University of Adelaide, AIMTEK, the Australian Youth Aerospace Forum, BAE Systems Australia, Boeing Research and Technology Australia, Centro Italiano Ricerche Aerospaziali, Defence Science and Technology Organisation, Deutschese Zentrum fuer Luft –und Raumfahrt, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, Teakle Composites Pty Ltd, University of Minnesota, University of New South Wales, University of Southern Queensland. They have received a total grant of $5 Million.

The project is intended to be the first phase of a roadmap to develop a scramjet-based access-to-space industry. It's interesting to see the sheer number of parties involved in this one. The University of Queensland has already got some great runs on the board in this area, and it is fantastic to see further government support for this cutting edge work.

Antarctic Broadband – Definition and Capability Development
which includes: Aerospace Research Pty Ltd, the Australian National University, EM Solutions Pty Ltd, Environmental Systems and Services Pty Ltd, Joseph Mark Pty Ltd, The Tauri Group LLC, the University of Toronto. A grant total of $2.1 Million.

The project, as its title suggests is aimed at the definition and early development of a broadband satellite communications for the Antarctic. The announcement also includes the phrase "The project includes activities to build capacity and expertise in design, implementation and support of small-satellite communications systems in Australia", which perhaps suggests some broader future ideas for their work.

and last but not least:
Platform Technologies for Space, Atmosphere and Climate
which includes RMIT University, the Bureau of Meteorology, Curtin University of Technology, Electro Optic Systems Space System, GPSat Systems Australia Pty Ltd, National Space Organisation Taiwan, NOAA’s World Data Centre for Metrology, the University of New South Wales. They were awarded funds of just over $2.8Million.

The announcement includes the following project description "Advanced platform technologies will be developed for space-related research, including in-space tracking and navigation, precise positioning, space weather, atmospheric modelling and climate monitoring. New algorithms and enhanced atmospheric models will be developed in the context of new generation navigation and geo-environmental satellite programs to enhance Australia’s capability in space research."
Perhaps this one is a little less specific in exactly what will be achieved, but nevertheless, a highly qualified group, who will no doubt come up with some great results.

So, the overall verdict....

Spot On!

It has spread the funding amongst some highly qualified consortiums in Australia, with links overseas. It is also spreading funds amongst some great niche capabilities, whilst also providing funds for some new ideas and real Australian specific programs, which are just not provided when you leave it to the market.

A big congratulations to all winners of Round 1, and I look forward to the next few rounds.

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