www.australiainspace.com.au ISSUE #2 | APRIL 2022
Stand up of Australia’s Space Command
Australian Space Forum takeaways
Space is the place for Australia’s defence
Highlights at the Singapore Airshow
AROSE helping Australia’s remote mining capabilities
Accessing space from Australia Making oxygen from the martian atmosphere
SpAARC ignites Australia’s space sector
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Episode 317 – The SKA Observatory – The nextgeneration radio astronomy
Dr Pearce shares the latest development of the SKA (Square Kilometre Array) Observatory
Dr. Sarah Pearce is Director of the SKA-Low Telescope, soon to be built in Western Australia as part of the $2bn international SKA Observatory. Sarah worked at Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, for 10 years in the fields of space and astronomy, and spent six months in early 2021 as CSIRO’s Acting Chief Scientist. Her previous roles included senior science advisor in the UK Parliament and project manager of GridPP, the UK’s program delivering computing for particle physics. In 2020, Dr. Pearce was named Telstra NSW Business Woman of the Year and Executive of the Year at the Australian Space Awards. She is a strong advocate for diversity in science and technology. 00:00
Dr. Sarah Pearce Director of the SKA-Low Telescope
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Episode 315 – Frontier, the first exascale supercomputer in the USA
Helping lead the acquisition of the Frontier Exascale computer at ORNL
Jane Lo, Singapore Correspondent speaks with Al Geist, Corporate Research Fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (“ ORNL” ). He is the chief technical officer of the Exascale Computing Project, as well as the CTO of the Leadership Computing Facility and chief scientist for the Computer Science and Mathematics Division at ORNL. He is helping lead the acquisition of the Frontier Exascale computer at ORNL. His recent research is on Exascale computing and resilience needs of the hardware and software. Geist has published two books and over 200 papers.
Al Geist Corporate Research Fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory
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Australia Riskin Leaders Space Magazine | 4 w w w . s p a c e a n d d e f e n s eSPACE . i oMAGAZINE SPECIAL | Cyber
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www.onegiantleapaustralia.com www.onegiantleapfoundation.com.au mss KKeeyy PPrrooggrraam
wee ddoo W Whhaatt w For Australia to reach its full potential in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), we need to ensure we are developing a future workforce equipped with the diverse and dynamic set of skills that will meet the needs of employers in these developing and innovative industries. One Giant Leap Australia helps schools build and maintain student interest and aspiration in STEM. One Giant Leap Australia has forged strong working relationships and partnerships with a range of educational institutions and providers; local, state and national government agencies; STEMbased companies; aeronautical and astronomical researchers and scientists and other community-based organisations.
Seeds in Space Australian school students experiment with and cultivate seeds, such as wattle and basil, that have spend time in space on the international space station in this unique. scientific study.
Connecting Minds Project Students around the globe collaborate together to develop solutions to STEM challenges in space. Students not only develop STEM skills but also key communication and collaborative skills.
Gadget Girlz Run by girls, for girls, this programs opens the door to young girls who want to pursue a career in STEM. Free one day workshops are held across Australia.
Space Teams Former NASA Astronaut, Dr Gregory Chamitoff has developed an online platform for students to learn about and develop space missions and colonies in space. Participants also have access to key industry mentors.
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org Australia in Space Magazine | 5
Contents ASA Chief: Momentum is building in Australia’s space sector Director & Executive Editor Chris Cubbage Director David Matrai Art Director Stefan Babij
MARKETING AND ADVERTISING email@example.com Copyright © 2021 - My Security Media Pty Ltd GPO Box 930 SYDNEY N.S.W 2001, AUSTRALIA E: firstname.lastname@example.org All Material appearing in Australian in Space Magazine is copyright. Reproduction in whole or part is not permitted without permission in writing from the publisher. The views of contributors are not necessarily those of the publisher. Professional advice should be sought before applying the information to particular circumstances.
O U R C H A N N ELS
The Andy Thomas Space Foundation
Thirteenth Australian Space Form
Australia’s national space charity
Ready for take-off Highlights at the Singapore Airshow 2022
Accessing space from Australia: How it benefits all Australians
Australia’s Space: History as a Guide to the Future?
Australia’s place in space: Back to the future "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. “
Defence Minister announces stand up of Australia’s space command
Space is the place for Australia’s defence
Sovereign launch strategy
SpAARC ignites Australia’s space sector
AROSE is helping take Australia’s remote mining capabilities into space
Connecting Australia to space with laser communications
Making oxygen from the martian atmosphere
An experiment on a mars rover paves the way for human visitors
CORRES PONDE NTS * & CONTRI BUTORS
Jessica Bainbridge* Jane Lo* Andrew Curran* Daniel Hunter Mike Kalms Stephanie Wan Dharshun Sridharan Dr Malcolm Davis
Dr Chris Flaherty Scott Schneider Dr David Gozzard Lisa Harvey Kelly Yeoh Dr Alice Gorman Rebecca Shrimpton
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Chris Cubbage CPP, CISA, GAICD Director & Executive Editor
"We’ve been involved in space for many years, a couple of decades, but our approach has been federated" -Air Marshall Mel Hupfeld, Royal Australian Air Force, Speaking at the Space Foundation's 37th Space Symposium, Colorado Springs, USA, 6 April 2022
he global space economy is worth US$447 billion at last count and climbing. Consequently, many nation-states, private enterprises, and individuals want in, including many in Australia. Kelli Kedis Ogborn, Vice President of Space Commerce and Entrepreneurship at the Space Foundation, confirmed at the 37th Space Symposium there is a lot of opportunity and upward trends within the future space economy and space commerce. "We’re at this watershed, currently some of the most innovative minds are reimagining the space economy in terms of off Earth, global commerce sector," she said, and added, "this will benefit not only future space exploration but also scientific and technological development on Earth." NASA’s Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy outlined the space agency’s goals and priorities in a wide-ranging speech to the Space Symposium. She said, "NASA is busier and more productive than ever chasing its overarching goal – to create a blueprint for a sustained human presence in and exploration of the solar system." As the watershed unfolds, Australia is amidst the early revitalisation of the civil space sector and only just standing up its own military Space Command. Australia’s Air Marshall, Mel Hupfield, comments, quoted above, came just two weeks after Australia’s Defence Minister formally ‘stood up’ the Space Command. Defence Minister Peter Dutton announced at the Royal Australia Air Force’s Air and Space Power Conference in Canberra that the Space Command, headed by Air Vice Marshall Cath Roberts will be a "modest" version of similar space bodies set up by Australia’s allies. Space Command will draw upon personnel across the ADF, Australia’s Space Agency, the public and private sectors. In this issue, Dr Malcom Davis writes on the Space Command and that this, “marks a huge step forward in Australia’s thinking about space as an operational environment. It marks an end to the traditional approach of past decades which saw a disparate and scattered management of individual space projects, and a perception of space capability almost as an afterthought, which was at best, simply an enabling capability provided by foreign and commercial partners.” Also speaking at the Air and Space Power Conference was Boeing Defence Australia’s Chief Technology Officer, Hugh Webster. Mr Webster said Boeing’s in-house strategic intelligence report indicated that the capability gap between what Western defence forces need and what those forces have or are going to get is large. "The cost to sustain increasingly more complex weapon systems is steadily growing. The pace of acquisition process reform is never going to solve that capability gap because the fundamental design addresses internal process contests rather than warfighter capability contests," said Boeing’s CTO. "Industry is concerned that without philosophical and actual reform and then acceleration, our forces will not be adequately able to deal with threats in the coming decades."
Australia will need to focus on its strengths. AROSE (Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth), has created the Resources Advisory Board (RAB) and announced its high profile, industry-leading board members linked to the WA Mining sector. This announcement was soon followed by the Western Australian government committing $6.5 million to boost its space program in the upcoming State Budget. A majority of the funding will be supporting AROSE and $2.5 million committed to Curtin University’s Binar Space Program, the university’s first spacecraft, Binar-1. Launched into space on August 29, 2021, Binar-1 is currently orbiting 400 kilometres above Earth providing valuable information on spacecraft operation and performance. We are also introducing the International Space Bridge Series, with a series of podcast and Australia in Space TV interviews. We speak with Professor Phil Bland, Director, Space Science and Technology Centre, Curtin University about the risky experiment Australia is undertaking in its funding of the national space industry. The level of investment Australia is making in space is unquestionably a good thing. But the great majority of it supports applied research and engineering, and commercialisation of outcomes. None of the new funding goes to basic research. Professor Bland highlights why this is missing out on extraordinary opportunities. We also speak with Dr. Sarah Pearce, Director of the SKA-Low Telescope, soon to be built in Western Australia as part of the $2bn international SKA Observatory. Comprising up to 130,000 antennas spreading across 65km of desert, Dr Pearce explains the telescope will be more sensitive, and able to capture images at higher resolution and faster than ever before. We are also very pleased to be the 'Official Media Partners' for The Andy Thomas Space Foundation's 14th Australian Space Forum, which will be held on Tuesday, 25 October 2022 at the Adelaide Convention Centre. Supported by the Australian Space Agency, the South Australian Space Industry Centre and SmartSat CRC, the Forum provides the perfect opportunity to stimulate ideas, share information about emerging technologies and network with influential space sector leaders and the broader community. In this inaugural edition of the Australian in Space Magazine, we are proud to have contributions from Southern Launch, Austrade, Australian Strategic Policy Institute, KPMG, University of WA and Flinders University, along with coverage of the 13th Australian Space Forum, Royal Australia Air Force’s Air and Space Power Conference, Singapore Air Show and the most recent Space Foundation's 37th Space Symposium, USA. Finally, we hope to see you in Sydney on May 11 for the UK-Australia Space Bridge Series Sundowner event with our community partner The Andy Thomas Space Foundation and sponsors Fugro SpAARC and AROSE. Look forward to seeing you there. Enjoy the reading, listening and viewing and please get in touch if you want to contribute or support our next edition.
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New Gen Exhibit at the 37th Annual Space Symposium at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs Image Courtesy of the Space Foundation
ASA Chief: Momentum is building in Australia’s space sector By Andrew Curran, Correspondent, MySecurity Media
ustralian Space Agency chief Enrico Palermo says Australia is an emerging space nation that should be on the global space sector’s radar. Backed by government funding and an increasingly vibrant commercial space sector, Palermo says the momentum is rapidly growing across Australia’s space industry. The Head of the ASA was speaking at the Space Symposium held in Colorado this week. Along with dozens of private sector Australian space businesses and 100 plus individuals from across the government, commercial enterprise, and media fields in Australia, Mr Palermo was at the Symposium promoting Australia’s fast rising space sector to the world. “In 2021, the momentum in our sector really started to accelerate,” he said. “We saw more Australian technology launched into space. We saw our first spaceport licensed and our first launch attempt under our amended Space Launches and Return Act.” Palermo was keen to correct the perception that Australia is new to space. It isn’t. He says Australia’s involvement in space goes back to the post-WWII era. But the Australian Government rebooted the country’s space strategy in recent years with the formation of the ASA and the implementation of a civil space strategy. The
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ASA chief says he wants to grow a globally respected, responsible, and thriving space sector ecosystem in Australia that addresses its most significant challenges and lifts everyday individuals’ lives. “We’re now entering the implementation phase of our civil space strategy. We’re seeing a very diverse and vibrant sector develop,” Palermo said. “That’s just a reflection of the momentum and activity, with space now a priority for our government. We’re seeing increased investment and increasing commercialisation – it’s a very exciting time for us.” The Australian Government’s revived interest in space has seen it commit to spending $12 billion in the sector by 2030 and creating 20,000 new jobs. Since the establishment of the ASA in 2018, the Government has already spent more than $2 billion on space projects. The recent 2022-23 Budget also included over $1 billion through to 2038-39 and more than $38 million annually for the first stage of a National Space Mission for Earth Observation. That will result in Australia designing, building, and operating four new satellites. “This is a really important mission for the nation,” said Palermo. “Australia has been a long-time consumer of earth observation data, and we reflected we also need to be a contributor
of free and open data. That project reflects that our momentum in the space sector is going up.” The space agency chief believes that the satellite program is only the first of several space missions Australia will embark on. The ASA is also helping develop a rover to travel to the Moon mid-decade. Palermo says the additional funding is a real shot in the arm for Australia’s commercial space sector. He says it won’t just uplift the country’s satellite manufacturing capability but also help businesses in the situational awareness, robotics and automation, communications, and cyber sectors. As a result, Palermo thinks the local space industry is starting to get on a real power curve.
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and Robotics Control Complex (SpAARC).
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The Andy Thomas Space Foundation 13th Australian Space Forum
By Jessica Bainbridge, Tech Editor & Space Correspondent
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n March 3rd the 13th Space Forum took place in Adelaide with over 900 attendees and 70 exhibitors, including the likes of Airbus, The Australian Space Agency, Deloitte and SmartSat CRC to name a few. It was their biggest forum yet with several key announcements being made on the day. The morning began like all good mornings should with coffee and an interesting chat. My first conversation of the day was with one of the exhibitors (Roberto Santucci from Arrow Electronics Australia) around counterfeit electronics and the threat this poses to Space technology. Before long, it was time to head into the main hall for the day's first sessions. First up, Adj Prof Nicola Sasanelli AM, CEO – The Andy Thomas Space Foundation took the stage to formally open the event and welcome the attendees, who were both in person and virtually dialling in. A video message was then played from the Head of the Italian Space Agency, Giorgio Saccoccia who acknowledged the strong links between Australia and Italy and paid tribute to the late Italian Ambassador to Australia, Francesca Tardioli who tragically passed away at aged 56 just weeks before.
She was committed to Space activities and Giorgio described her death as a “great loss for everyone and what she initiated when it came to collaborations among our two countries in the Space field”. The second speaker of the day was the Hon Steven Marshall MP – Premier of South Australia. The Premiere touched on the state satellite Kanyini, a name it acquired recently after a naming contest, joking that he was worried it might have ended up being called Satty McSat Face and was relieved when that didn’t happen. He noted Kanyini is going through its final work and observations at the moment and will go into manufacturing and testing soon. The Premiere said it will play an important role for government, the commercial sector and most importantly getting young people in schools enthused about data from space. The premier also spoke on the morning’s announcement that the Morrison Government is investing $20 million into The Australian Space Park, which also includes an investment of $20 million from the South Australian Government bringing the project total to $66 million. The Hon Melissa Price MP, Minister for
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The Hon Steven Marshall MP – Former Premier of South Australia with the team at Cosine. Images courtesy of ATSF
Defence Industry and for Science and Technology who took the stage next also spoke on the Australian Space Park stating it is due to create 221 local jobs, as well as more than 1000 others indirectly while inspiring the next generation of Space manufactures and researchers. Minister Price went on to announce a Space Strategic Update (SSU), this is a combined civil and defence approach to Space that will go on to create a unified national Strategy. She went on to say the SSU will align efforts across the nation through to the 2040s as we transition Australia into a leading Space player. This will be led by the Australian Space Agency, who will also work to enhance the coordination of investments across states and territories, the government, and science civil and defence activities. Minister Price then went on to announce the abolishment of launch permit application fees, which was met with applauds from the audience. Minister Price said, “from investing in new spaceports to securing space flights so that our Aussie tech can hitch a ride and test and showcase its technology, to getting Aussie astronauts into Space, we’re investing money where it is needed to make a real difference”. She said that
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AUSTRALIA IN SPACE
The Hon Steven Marshall MP – Former Premier of South Australia with the team at Quantx. Images courtesy of ATSF
Tim Parsons from Aurora with Heather Gryst (previously at SmartSat CRC)
the Australian Space Agency has also been tasked with strengthening the environment around regulations to identify improvements to procedures and practices and streamline interaction with industry. The following session was around international space trends with Enrico Palermo, Head of the Australian Space Agency opening the session and introducing keynote addresses from Lisa Campbell, President Canadian Space Agency and Yves Doat, Head Of The Estrack Stations & Infrastructure section (ops-oni) at European Space Agency, noting that Canada and Europe are important partners for Australia. Enrico spoke openly about the SSU being pivotal to the ASA’s efforts for this year as they begin
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to work with government and industry to create what will become the national Space strategy. Enrico went on to give an update on some of the other key areas of focus for the agency in 2022 stating “they don’t plan to miss a beat” with the continuation of their programs, injecting stimulus and investment into their 7 key priority areas, the development of space supply chains in domestic and international markets, the delivery space products and services and finally the important role of inspiring and bringing Space to the nation. Throughout the day there was also a Defence Space Update, a Space Traffic Coordination and management panel and the day ended with a session on life science research and enabling
long term space habitation. It was clear from the day that the Australian Space industry is an extremely progressive one with many announcements and discussions being had including the formation of the Australian Defence Industry Space Capability Alliance (ADISCA) a collaboration between eight leading Australian-owned Space and Defence companies, DEWC Systems, Gilmour Space, Inovor, Neumann Space, Nova Systems, Southern Launch, REDARC Electronics and Space Machines Company to help boost sovereign space capabilities. From here it’s onward and upwards there’s no end of possibilities for Space in Australia.
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The Andy Thomas Space Foundations Australian Space Forum team pictured during the 13th Forum in March 2022
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Australia’s national space charity Courtesy of The Andy Thomas Space Foundation
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The Andy Thomas Space Foundation (ATSF), is Australia’s national space charity, dedicated to supporting the education and outreach goals of the Australian Space Agency. Named in honour of Australian born and educated NASA astronaut, Dr Andrew Thomas, we aim to design and implement practical programs to enhance space industry awareness among the Australian community and drive national progress in education, research and innovation. Our aim is to make space truly accessible for all. Since the Foundation’s commencement in July 2020, the ATSF has been focused on facilitating and increasing access to the space sector for students of all academic levels across Australia, ranging from primary school children to post-graduate and early career researchers. Our mission is driven by the economic and social importance of contributing to and supporting the Australian Space Agency’s strategy of tripling the space sector’s contribution to GDP and creating an additional 20,000 direct jobs in Australia by 2030. Underlying this growth strategy is an awareness that an increasing number of skilled graduates and technicians will be the key to our future success. According to the Foundation’s chairperson, Michael Davis AO, “the Foundation believes that inspiring and encouraging students from the start of their schooling will ignite a passion for space science and technologies and will drive an ambition among the next generation of Australians to become deeply involved in our space future, both nationally and internationally.” Great attention has been focused on increasing awareness of cross and multidisciplinary involvement within the industry, utilisation of unique and emerging
technologies for improved education strategies as well as the importance of engaging and inspiring students, teachers and their parents, early in the academic cycle. After an incredibly successful inaugural Education Fund program in 2021, in which we offered seven programs to a value of $230,000, our program this year will see an increase and expansion of the academic offerings available. With over $300,000 worth of scholarships, prizes and awards in 2022 across nine programs, the Foundation will, over two years, have provided more than half a million dollars’ worth of funding for educational outreach and opportunities in Australia, enabling study and research in universities, schools and private organisations across the nation. The ATSF Education Fund programs are dedicated to supporting students at all levels of education, as well as helping to promote advanced space-related research. One of our programs is designed to advance the skills of primary school teachers in STEM learning and design thinking. Another supports space-related science research projects at secondary school level. Other programs include providing internship opportunities for tertiary students, with some of Australia’s leading space technology companies and giving financial awards to some of Australia’s leading PhD researchers for their work in advanced space science topics. In this framework the following programs are being implemented in 2022: • Mercury Program: The Andy Thomas Space Foundation’s 3D Innovation Challenge • Mars Program: The Andy Thomas Space Foundation School Challenge • Venus Program: The Andy Thomas Space Foundation
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• • • • • •
and Playford Trust Undergraduate Scholarships Earth Program: The Andy Thomas Space Foundation and Playford Trust Undergraduate Internship Prizes Neptune Program: The Andy Thomas Space Foundation Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Scholarship Uranus Program: The Andy Thomas Space Foundation and Australian Space Agency Graduate Scholarships in Space Saturn Program: The Andy Thomas Space Foundation SmartSat CRC and DEWC PhD Scholarship Jupiter Program: The Andy Thomas Space Foundation EOS Space Systems Research Awards Pluto Program: The Andy Thomas Space Foundation and cosine Remote Sensing Project
The Foundation is proud to have announced this list of dynamic and diverse programs, including our first internationally co-funded scholarship with the Netherlands satellite instrument manufacturer, cosine. This program will support a doctoral candidate or early career researcher to engage in research relating to hyperspectral observations and algorithms and will include a short-term trip to Europe to further develop their knowledge. The Andy Thomas Space Foundation 3D Innovation Challenge will again involve nine primary schools, and the Andy Thomas Space Foundation Schools Challenge will involve nine high schools. The primary school innovation challenge is a multi-term education program in which students and teachers will utilise 3D design and print technology to create an imaginative solution to a global space challenge. The secondary schools challenge will include a deep dive into the Buzz Aldrin Foundation’s Giant Mars Maps and the Hamilton Secondary College space resources to educate students on the various challenges involved in both travel to and habitation on Mars. Both school programs will culminate in a student showcase at the Australian Space Discovery Centre at Lot Fourteen in Adelaide on the final day of the inaugural Andy Thomas Space Foundation week in October 2022. For the first time in the Education Fund’s history, the ATSF in collaboration with SmartSat CRC and DEWC will be offering a full PhD scholarship to support an Australian student to complete their thesis on a novel and innovative space-related topic. Similarly, we will see the return of the cofunded EOS space research program and a new and expanded version of a co-funded internship program with the Playford Trust, which includes eight scholarships, each valued at $2,500, for undergraduate students. The Andy Thomas Space Foundation’s Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program scholarship will again see senior undergraduate or graduate students fully supported to participate in the five week International Space University/ University of South Australia Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program in early 2023. Additionally, the expanded Graduate scholarships in space program, cofunded by the Australian Space Agency, will this year offer twice the number of students an opportunity to commence their space discipline honours or masters’ studies. The ATSF and Playford Trust Undergraduate
Scholarships program is an incredibly important initiative to bridge the gap between high school and university focused on enabling Year 12 students to commence space-related undergraduate degrees. The Andy Thomas Space Foundation’s CEO, Nicola Sasanelli AM said that his hope ‘‘is for the education programs to make tangible impacts on students and young researchers, encouraging longterm engagement with and passion for the growing industry.’ The Education Fund has been made possible thanks to the generosity of the Foundation’s sponsors and the funds generated through the bi-annual Andy Thomas Space Foundation’s Australian Space Forum. The last three Forums saw more than 2,000 industry experts in attendance and over 200 exhibitors. The Foundation recently released further information on the next Forum to be held on Tuesday 25 October 2022 at the Adelaide Convention Centre. The forum topics will include: • Earth Observation – The National Space Mission for Earth Observation – a major investment that will expand Australia’s capability in designing and manufacturing and operating space and ground-based systems to enable it. • Optical Communications – A quantum leap in Australia’s secure and high bandwidth communications to connect the world and beyond. • Foundation Services Rover – Exploring remote operations and autonomous systems building on Australian expertise in the resources and mining sectors for the collection of lunar soil (regolith). For more information abou t the 14th Australian Space Forum, please visit: https://forum.andythomas. foundation/14th-australian-space-forum/ Because we are a not-for-profit organisation, all surpluses generated from the Forums are direct contributions to the ATSF’s Education Fund. 2022 will also see the Andy Thomas Space Foundation increasing not only its space and education industry engagement but also supporting national education initiatives aimed at engaging students and increasing public access to space sector education. The space sector in Australia is growing across all facets and interest groups. We have already been engaging with local, national, and international space sector individuals, communities and organisations to better connect with and promote the growth of space education and accessibility within the Australian community. The Foundation has established itself as a crucial component of the space ecosystem in Australia, as a charity organisation supporting and promoting STEM studies for young students as well as technological pathways for graduates and young researchers, driven by the need for skilled future operators in the space industry. In parallel with our education programs, we support innovation and competitiveness amongst the Australian industry and research organisations through conducting collective and niche networking events, bringing best practice and strategies from all over the world, and generating constructive discussion.
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Ready for take-off
Highlights at the Singapore Airshow 2022
wo years ago, the 7th edition of the SIngapore Airshow was one of the last major physical events before the world was hit hard by the pandemic, which severely disrupted the aviation sector. At its peak, international passenger traffic shrank by more than 90%, with passenger traffic at Singapore Changi Airport falling to less than 1% of pre-COVID levels, and global spending on aerospace MRO (maintenance, repairs, overhauls) dropping by over 40% in 2020. Without a doubt, the last two years had been one of unprecedented challenge for the sector. With signs promising recovery in the near horizon – such as Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) for travellers from more than 20 countries – the 8th edition, held from 15-18th Feb 2022, is a much welcome opportunity to showcase the innovations reshaping the industry as it gears up to meet the anticipated uptick in demand. Representing more than 70% of the top 20
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global aerospace companies with almost 600 participating companies from more than 39 countries/regions, the SIngapore Airshow 2022 reflects the return of air travel in many ways.
Recovery and safe re-opening “Two years on, as we learn to live with the virus, countries are gradually re-opening their borders. International air travel passenger volume is expected to recover to 55% of pre-COVID levels this year, up from about 20% in 2021,” said Mr Heng Swee Keat (Deputy Prime Minister (DPM), Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies, Singapore) at his opening speech, Reflecting Singapore’s commitment to safely re-open the economy and borders to the rest of the world, the Airshow trialled new protocols (a higher event capacity and daily COVID-19 testing), to pave the way for the safe and calibrated resumption of larger conferences, and exhibitions.
“All attendees will have to be pre-registered, fully-vaccinated with the World Health Organisation Emergency Use Listing (WHO EUL) vaccines and adhere to the prevailing safe management measures. These include mandatory mask-wearing, safe distancing protocols, designated food and beverage zones and regular disinfection of event spaces,” said Mr Leck (Managing Director, Experia, SIngapore Airshow 2022 organiser).
Transformation drivers - digitalisation and sustainability In addition, reflecting Singapore’s commitment to grow the sector – there are several developments to transform the sector with the twin drivers of digitalisation and sustainability. Digitalisation initiatives include the aviation lab launched by Singapore Airlines and the National University of Singapore to explore AI
(L-R) Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Transport and Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations, Dr Ng Eng Hen, Minister for Defence and Mr Ravinder Singh, Chairman of Experia at the Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony of SIngapore Airshow 2022. Photo credit: SIngapore Airshow 2022
By Jane Lo Singapore Correspondent MySecurity Media Deputy Prime Minister and Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies Mr Heng Swee Keat delivering the opening address at the Opening Ceremony of SIngapore Airshow 2022. Photo Credit: SIngapore Airshow 2022
and data science, and the 320 hectare Selatar AeroSpace park to host “plug & play” smart factory solutions for advanced aerospace manufacturing and MRO (maintenance, repairs, overhaul) activities. Singapore’s multi-prong approach to meet sustainability goals such as net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 includes piloting the use of sustainable aviation fuels at Changi Airport. Other examples are the MOU signed by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) with Airbus to collaborate on sustainable aviation; Neste’s expansion of its Singapore’s refinery to produce sustainable aviation fuel at commercial scale (up to 1 million tons annually when completed in 2023); and SIngapore Airshow’s inaugural “Sustainable Aviation Forum” to discuss future technology, air mobility and aviation operations.
Autonomy and Air mobility There is certainly much excitement over autonomy and air mobility. In fact, autonomous aircraft technologies have long been identified as key to realising Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, with the passing of the “Unmanned Aircraft (Public Safety and Security) Act 2015.” However, what is increasingly evident is its role in contributing to the digitalisation and sustainable agenda. Emphasising the technologies as a “potential gamechanger”, DPM Heng pointed to how they could improve “how we guide and control aircrafts, and eventually, to transport cargo and people around autonomously.” In particular, Teong Soo Soon (VP & Head of UA Systems at ST Engineering) said Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UA) are emerging “as safe and robust alternatives to traditionally labour- and
time-intensive missions.” The recent deployment of drones for crowd management and search and rescue, and for water quality monitoring and survey are examples where the public sectors have seized on the potential of the technologies to reduce manpower – and to act as early warning systems. Announced at the SIngapore Airshow 2022 was another deployment of UA - in heavy-lift ship-to-shore parcel delivery. The 9-month pilot involves a consortium of ST Engineering, Sumitomo Corporation and Skyports to conduct Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) flight operations using ST Engineering’s DroNet, with the goal of establishing a UA delivery network capable of carrying parcel payloads up to 10kg. Adding to the buzz of UA talk is the progress in electrical vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL). Since Volocopter first captured the Singapore public’s imagination with its eVTOL flight over
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The RSAF's aerial display will feature nine manoeuvres by the F-16C fighter aircraft and 12 manoeuvres by the pair of AH-64D Apache attack helicopters. Photo Credit: SIngapore Airshow 2022
Volocopter flight over Marina Bay, Singapore, in 2019. Photo Credit: Volocopter.
Marina Bay in 2019, there had been several developments of significance in the sector. During the SIngapore Airshow 2022, Volocopter announced that it is targeting a commercial launch in Singapore around 2024 and has released its “Singapore Roadmap” – one of the fist places in the world in which the company will operate. Skyports’ expertise and experience of providing the critical link between the ground and the sky through the design and development of take-off and landing sites – vertiports – for eVTOL will be leveraged in multiple projects. In particular, Skyports signed an MOU with several government agencies in Singapore for further research and development work, which includes the provision of an air taxi vertiport terminal, airside facilities and hangarage, and UA pilot training. However, sharing a common and busy air space for the safe operations of manned and unmanned aircraft is not without challenges. For example, today’s regulations set out height restrictions and geofencing rules for drones – such as Singapore’s rules that drones must not fly within the specified distance of 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) of an airport. To spur UA adoption and scale up for commercial operations, a crucial development is the safe integration of UA into a nonsegregated airspace. Speaking at the “Sustainable Aviation Forum – Day 1”, Tan Kah Han (Senior Director, Unmanned Systems Group, CAAS) laid out three phases to “interface then integrate to enable AAM (advanced air mobility) operations” from a regulatory perspective. The approach sees regulations in today’s segregated airspace replaced progressively by a “UTM & ATM Convergence” (unmanned traffic management and air traffic management) in the near term with the deployment of drones delivery, and an “UTM & ATM integrated Airspace” in the future with the launch of eVTOLs. CAAS is also working with universities and other partners, to further ATM research using digital and other tools. Demonstrating the importance of public-private partnership, an MOU was also inked with ST Engineering Aerospace Ltd at the SIngapore Airshow 2022 to jointly advance UA technologies development and adoption in Singapore.
Ready for take-off
SIngapore Airshow 2022. 15 – 18 February 2022, Singapore Changi Exhibition Centre. Photo Credit: ST Engineering.
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The recovery of the industry is another topic that takes centre-stage at this year’s Airshow. Notwithstanding potential headwinds such as rising oil prices and overall price inflation,
leaders at the “Aviation CEO Forum” (Avolon, BOC Aviation, CFM International, Malaysia Airlines, Air Asia Aviation Group, Rex Airlines) expressed cautious optimism for the sector’s recovery. The role of the aviation in driving the economy and bringing people together is clear. The sector “has a strong multiplier effect on adjacent industries, including logistics, hospitality and professional services”, and it “also brings billions of people together. People travel by air to visit friends and loved ones, and to explore interesting sights and cultures around the world. Aviation has helped to deepen shared perspectives of our common humanity,” said DPM Heng at his opening speech at the Singapore Air Show 2022. “Hence, we should resolve to bring aviation and aerospace to new heights as we rebuild for a better post-pandemic future,” he added. Indeed, with aerial displays of incredible stunts and manoeuvres from the Republic of Singapore Air Force, the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force, the Indonesian Air Force and the Indian Air Force, there is much enthusiasm in the air as the sector readies for take-off.
The sector “has a strong multiplier effect on adjacent industries, including logistics, hospitality and professional services”, and it “also brings billions of people together. People travel by air to visit friends and loved ones, and to explore interesting sights and cultures around the world. Aviation has helped to deepen shared perspectives of our common humanity,”
Sustainable Aviation Forum Day 1 - (L-R) Fernando Ariño Grau (Director of Market Intelligence, Embraer Asia Pacific, Embraer Commercial Aviation), Matheu Parr (Customer Director, Rolls-Royce Electrical), Tay Yun Yuan (Head of Asia Pacific, Skyports), Tan Kah Han, (Senior Director, Unmanned Systems Group, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore – CAAS); Joshua Ng (Director, Alton Aviation Consultancy, moderator). Photo Credit: SIngapore Airshow 2022
(L-R) FlightGlobal's contributing editor Mark Pilling, Bo Lingam (Group CEO, AirAsia Aviation Limited), Dómhnal Slattery (CEO, Avolon), Robert Martin (Managing Director and CEO, BOC Aviation), Gaël Méheust (President & CEO, CFM International), Lim Kim Hai (Executive Chairman, REX Airlines), speaking at the Aviation CEO Forum at Singapore Airshow 2022. Photo Credit: SIngapore Airshow 2022.
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Accessing space from Australia: How it benefits all Australians
By Scott Schneider Southern Launch General Manager - Regulation & Legal
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ustralia has a long relationship with outer space. Australian Aboriginals living over 40,000 years ago are the first known creators of astronomical records. By using the features of outer space for timekeeping, navigation, governance, mythology, and more, the indigenous people of Australia have a deep connection with the skies beyond earth. Today, Australians continue to use outer space to increase our standard of living. National security, disaster prevention, disaster mitigation, agriculture, mining, environmental management, manufacturing, and remote healthcare are only some examples in which harnessing outer space increases any particular capability while simultaneously decreasing its cost to the end-user. This correlation represents the NewSpace phenomenon. NewSpace is a paradigm born from the growth of the private space industry and emblematic of low-cost access to space, smaller satellites, and the reduction of administrative and regulatory barriers across the space sector. In the Australian context, a pairing of the enthusiasm for new business and research ventures with exceptionally strong scientific and technical expertise has brought Australia to the forefront of the global NewSpace economy. What has followed is that the country is currently afront a window of opportunity to secure its position as a global leader in several NewSpace services. A domestic capability servicing the whole value chain in certain NewSpace activities not only means the outputs of the Australian industry and research sectors are exported to the world market, but everyday Australians can depend on the domestic economy for their essential space-derived
services rather than relying on Australia’s international partners or suppliers. A key component of Australia’s increasing its portion of NewSpace service provision is the ability to place into orbit spacecraft which support essential and next-generation space-derived services: which means, launch provision. Benefits derived from a domestic NewSpace launch capability are military in nature as well as civil. From a strategic perspective, it is of paramount importance that Australia reduces its dependence on foreign launching nations when seeking to conduct rocketry or satellite activity for national security purposes. The civil benefits of a sovereign NewSpace launch capability are three-fold. In the first instance, launch operations increase macroeconomic activity in Australia. International customers of Australian NewSpace launch service providers are bringing their launch vehicle and satellite manufacturing, integration, and testing supply chains to Australia. This increases jobs and grows communities, particularly in rural areas surrounding launch ranges and testing locations. Secondly, and following from the direct economic stimulation, domestic NewSpace launch services are necessary to secure civil benefit to Australians and consumers who rely on or can benefit from using space applications. Developments in, for example, advanced earth imaging, telecommunications and position, navigation, and timing systems allow Australians to better manage farm assets, better communicate in remote areas, and make better use of enhanced precision tools for urban development. These benefits make their way to the end-
AUSTRALIA IN SPACE
In 2019 the Australian Federal Government committed to supporting the growth of Australia’s space sector to reach a capacity of 20,000 full-time equivalent jobs and be worth 12 billion AUD by the year 2030.
user whenever, if taking the above examples, any Australian seeks to consume homegrown produce, wants reliable phone and internet service on a road trip, and wants to live in a comfortable or eco-friendly town or suburb. Australia will not have sustainable control over the NewSpace services providing all these benefits without an ongoing domestic NewSpace launch industry. The often-overlooked third area of significant benefit afforded by sovereign NewSpace launch activities is the opportunities presented to Australians living in remote environments, including indigenous Australians. People in remote regions of Australia also benefit from the general applications of space services such as remote healthcare, agriculture monitoring, and weather forecasting. Yet, domestic launch activities provide an additional and unique benefit beyond the end applications of space services. Remote communities situated in the areas of launch ranges and testing locations can significantly engage in and benefit from the upstream support of those NewSpace services. During Southern Launch’s TED campaign in 2020, individuals residing in the communities close to launch location completed relevant training before being hired to contribute to certain critical operations required to ensure launch activities were carried out safely. Finally, Australians in remote locations benefit from the economic activity that takes place in local industry in the lead up to and during a launch campaign. Hospitality, tourism, and retail industries in the communities near to launch activity experience a significant rise in sales when launch teams, stakeholders, and the general public arrive
to town in preparation for a launch. Not least, and perhaps most importantly, is the inspiration and enthusiasm demonstrated by young people towards engaging in the space sector for a career because of Australia’s NewSpace launch activities. Southern Launch has long engaged with the Koonibba community near Ceduna in South Australia to educate local school children on the nature of rocketry activity and the space economy. Feedback from both the students and school administration was overwhelmingly positive, with students being now motivated to graduate school and pursue STEM courses at university. This feedback is significant not only in terms of the vital importance of introducing children living in areas with fewer opportunities for employment to new career pathways but also because it is necessary to ensure the future Australian workforce can support the nation’s industries to meet the growing and diversified global demand for NewSpace space products and services. Such involvement and dependence on the residents of aboriginal communities bind Australia’s strong heritage in ancient astronomical activity to the contemporary and future NewSpace activities. A sustainable sovereign NewSpace capability not only benefits indigenous Australians; it relies upon their contribution in several key areas. The question to consider is whether Australia ensures it builds upon these positive signs in a sustainable way. The country’s natural conditions are of immense advantage for hosting NewSpace launch activity. With nearly year-long fair weather, low density of air traffic, and low infrastructure and population under flight paths, foreign launch vehicle operators consider Australia’s environment an ideal launch location. In recent years, the expertise of Southern Launch and other national launch leaders such as Gilmour Space Technologies and Equatorial Launch Australia have proven the Australian industry can accommodate a variety of the NewSpace launch demand. This has given some assurance to international launch vehicle and satellite manufacturers that Australia has the necessary expertise to support their projects. The remaining element to determine whether Australia will secure the demand for NewSpace launch activity is the government’s response to this demand of and interest in Australia. In 2019 the Australian Federal Government committed to supporting the growth of Australia’s space sector to reach a capacity of 20,000 full-time equivalent jobs and be worth 12 billion AUD by the year 2030. The purpose of this 2030 goal is for the government to ensure Australia becomes a globally responsible and respected national actor in space activities while lifting the domestic economy, inspiring Australians, and improving the lives of Australians. One of the government’s seven key priorities in the plan to reach this goal is to consider the regulatory environment related to Australian launch activity. Should the application of the regulatory environment prove to be competitive against other commercial launch countries, Australia will surely capture a sizeable portion of the global demand for NewSpace launch services. What follows is a sustainable sovereign launch capability – a requisite to Australia becoming a primary actor in the global NewSpace service provision for the benefit of all Australians.
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AUSTRALIA IN SPACE COVER FEATURE
Australia’s Space: History as a Guide to the Future?
By Daniel Hunter and Bec Shrimpton
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ustralia finds itself at a juncture in its history as a space nation. Our nascent space sector has grown rapidly in the past five years, although we still have a long way to go to establish a resilient and robust industry. In the mid 20th century Australia was a critical space partner to the UK and US: the Southern anchor in a multi-pronged ‘moonshot’. To rediscover our space heritage and take our place in the new space economy, Australia requires a cohesive and deliberate national policy approach that sets clear goals and unifies national effort. On 3 March, the government announced just that: the Australian Space Agency will lead a unified civil, commercial and military strategy for Australian space, setting the vision for decades into the future, with the ability to shape and develop a strong industrial base. New capability and innovation can be unlocked through collaborative partnerships
domestically and internationally. The announcement signals the strategic importance of space and the Australian Government’s commitment to the sector. The global space economy was valued at US$447 billion in 2020 and is now projected to exceed US$1.4 trillion by 2030. This astronomical growth is spurred by key drivers such as the miniaturisation of space technologies; rapidly falling launch costs; an increasingly data dependent global economy; rising private sector investment and competition in space, and significant growth in defence space investment by major governments. Since 2017 Australian space start-ups and SMEs have attracted more than $270 million in venture capital and angel funding, a tremendous achievement. This investment and planning provides Australian companies with the support to maintain and upgrade existing capabilities, as
AUSTRALIA IN SPACE
The global space economy was valued at US$447 billion in 2020 and is now projected to exceed US$1.4 trillion by 2030.
well as develop new capabilities to solve problems domestically and service global partners. 2019 government estimates show sector revenue had grown to $4.6 billion and the total number of direct space jobs rising to 11,500. Furthermore, a growing investment pipeline into the Australian civil space sector has been identified, valued at a total of at least AUD$2.02 billion. This includes AUD$774.6 million inbound investment from private industry and international space agencies. In addition to the space related projects such as JP9102, DEF799 and JP9360 Australia’s Department of Defence recently identified space as a Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority (SIC-P) and created a Space Command within the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). Space Command will be allocated more than $7 billion by the Federal Government to lead and manage Australian space operations. Defence (and Government more broadly) recognise that a competitive commercial space industry is now an essential element to the defence industrial base. The experience of other space-faring nations tells us that governments and defence departments play a key role in building and supporting national space industries, particularly in this nascent stage. There is a role for grants, but these need to be complemented by policy frameworks that accommodate responsible risk and provide certainty to smaller and medium sized enterprises. Governments do need to act as anchor customers, and indeed their needs from the commercial sector are only set to grow. However,
government and defence cannot and should not be the sole customers. Large, lucrative government contracts are a significant win for the few companies that secure them. However, the availability of such contracts is sporadic at best, with cash flows hindered by the long lead times involved to navigate tender processes. To be successful and thrive, Australian space companies must regularly win and maintain commercial and international contracts. Due to the size of our industry and economy, opportunities in Australia alone will not be sufficient. The character of the space industry itself is global, necessitating an outward looking approach that secures Australia’s place in the new space economy. Australian companies must look to exports, and to productive and trusted foreign investment to expand their commercial horizons. They must rise to the challenge of differentiating themselves from global competitors, and meet or exceed international standards. One way to strengthen a company’s domestic and global standing is to collaborate with others, both domestically and internationally. It was encouraging to see the recent formation of the Australian Defence Industry Space Capability Alliance (ADISCA), also announced at the Australian Space Forum in March this year. Consortia of existing capabilities may be better prepared to respond to multi-faceted proposals from government and defence in coming years, especially given many Australian space companies currently possess niche rather than vertically integrated capabilities. Space companies all over the world continue to show strong interest in Australia as a place to set up and expand operations. This introduces competition which – if strategically managed - is healthy and drives innovation. Whether these foreign companies operate in Australia or not, they are likely already competing for the same slice of global space opportunities. When targeted and undertaken as part of a deliberate strategy, foreign investment can catalyse and scale Australian space companies. Global opportunities, Australia’s competitive advantage and priorities Australia is well positioned to capitalise on the growing demand for space services and technologies. Our unique location makes us a prime location for launch, communications ground stations and space situational awareness capabilities. Beyond our geography, we are witnessing the development of exciting new technologies that will help solve many challenges facing the planet and the space environment. Australian companies are highly capable in a variety of areas such as advanced communication, quantum technology, rocket propulsion, mission control, space medicine and astronomy; they are ready to take their
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place in the global space sector. In addition, Australia’s mature capabilities in robotics and automation and remote operations management (from our work in primary sectors such as mining) are highly transferrable to space. Access to space is a vital component of the space economy. Estimates forecast 25,000 to 40,000 satellites will be launched into orbit by 2030. It is predicted that current global space port infrastructure and rocket availability is not sufficient to keep pace with increasing demand for mega constellations and for taking earth-bound industries into space. There is a growing focus for small launch companies to provide responsive maintenance and sustainment to mega constellations which do need heavy lifting to put significant numbers of satellites into orbit at once. Bottlenecks are anticipated at US space ports and existing trusted launch infrastructure outside of the US is limited. The US, UK, Korea, Japan, India and even Europe all have significant space aspirations with limited infrastructure and environmental constraints on their ability to launch at the necessarily growing cadence. Geopolitics only adds to the pressure on launch options from new politically aligned and operationally relevant locations. Strong demand for alternative launch locations is clear. Fittingly, Australia's geographical location allows launch to all orbits and inclinations from its territory (LEO, SSO, Polar, MEO, GEO, Equatorial), a key competitive advantage. Furthermore, Australia’s weather, low population density and uncongested air and maritime traffic present highly favourable conditions to accommodate launches at high rates. The Federal Government recently committed $65m for Australia’s space sector, including $32.3m co-investment for the development of up to three new or existing spaceports or launch sites across Australia. This provides not only an important injection of funds into a critical element of the space value chain, it does so at the right time. In a move strongly welcomed by industry here and abroad, the Federal Government has decided to abolish the Commonwealth Cost Recovery Scheme for space launches and return (originally due to come into effect at the end of July 2022). This is a great step in ensuring Australia’s regulatory environment creates commercially competitive conditions for foreign and domestic launchers to utilise Australian space ports.
Australian space ports and gaining valuable space heritage Gaining space heritage is often a difficult hurdle for space start-ups. Easier access for Australian companies to secure slots on rockets, especially on those taking off from our own shores, would be a huge boom for the industry. Manufacturing, maintenance, R&D, testing and accreditation capabilities - among other up and down stream activities - will all be encouraged to grow through the activity of the launch sector. Advanced industrial benefits are not where it ends. There are tourism, education and adjacent technology businesses that spring up around space launch. The
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economic and strategic possibilities that could be realised from a stable, active launch industry in Australia are invaluable. Two Australian space ports already well into their development are Equatorial Launch Australia in Arnhem Land, NT and Southern Launch at Whalers Way, South Australia. Each of these pioneering companies garner significant interest from the international space community. They have ensured an industry-led push into launch, alongside Gilmour Space (whose primary business is the development and manufacture of rockets and satellites) which plans to develop a space port at Abbot Point, QLD. Gilmour’s Eris rocket employs a proprietary hybrid rocket engine that uses both liquid and solid fuels for propulsion. The recent announcement of the South Australian Space Park (which included $20m in funding from the SA Government, and has since added a further $20m in federal funding under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative) is an exciting development in the growth of space manufacturing in Australia. A capable and busy launch industry will only further the need for manufacturing growth, creating highly skilled jobs and an asset for Australia’s economy. As regular launches from Australia begin, demand for space manufacturing capability will continue to increase as it progressively makes better economic sense for launchers and other space hardware firms to utilise local expertise and capability. Incubators and accelerators have sprung up in our Australian ecosystem, providing opportunities to connect Australia’s space talent and capabilities and help them achieve success at home and abroad.
Conclusion Australia’s space industry, with increasing support from government, and our advantageous geographical location are complemented by a stable and secure business environment, trusted relationships with allied nations, strong technical knowledge, advanced manufacturing capabilities and a broad, highly skilled industrial base. These aspects are and should continue to be celebrated widely. However, we cannot rest on our collective laurels. Australia (both government and industry) must continue to build on and accelerate the current growth and momentum if Australia is to become a true global player in space. All levers need to pull in the same direction with a wellcoordinated approach, which the national strategy should help bring to fruition. Our outstanding industry growth, along with recent signals from government recognising the opportunities on offer, Australia will rise to the occasion and ensure that our future in space is a mighty bright one. About the Author Daniel Hunter is Senior Adviser – Space & Defence in the Defence, Space and Infrastructure Centre of Excellence at Austrade. Bec Shrimpton is Head of the Defence, Space and Infrastructure Centre of Excellence at Austrade and a former senior adviser in the Foreign Minister’s office. The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own and don’t necessarily reflect the views of their employers.
AUSTRALIA IN SPACE
You’re invited to a Space Industry Sundowner
A night of networking and panel discussion on:
International Space Bridge Series
UK & Australia - Trade and investment opportunities in the space sector OPENING SESSION
Wednesday May 11th 5:30pm – 8:30pm Space Hub, Cicada Innovations
145/4 CORNWALLIS ST, EVELEIGH NSW 2015
Rebecca Norton Price DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL
UK SPACE AGENCY
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL AND NATIONAL ENGAGEMENT
AUSTRALIAN SPACE AGENCY
UK – Australia Space Bridge: Trade & Investment Opportunities CLOSING COMMENTS
ACTING DIRECTOR AUTOMOTIVE, AEROSPACE AND SPACE
HEAD OF DEFENCE, INFRASTRUCTURE & SPACE
UK DEPARTMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL TRADE
CHIEF STRATEGY OFFICER
DIRECTOR, SPACE – AUSTRALIA
SATELLITE APPLICATIONS CATAPULT (UK)
AIRBUS DEFENCE AND SPACE
UNIVERSITY OF NSW
THE ANDY THOMAS SPACE FOUNDATION
SENIOR LECTURER MATHEMATICS AND STATISTICS
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Australia in Space Magazine | 25
AUSTRALIA IN SPACE COVER FEATURE
Australia’s place in space: Back to the future "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind. “ By Mike Kalms, Partner, Stephanie Wan, Associate Director, Dharshun Sridharan, Associate Director KPMG
hese were the first words spoken by US Astronaut Neil Armstrong as he set foot on the Moon on the 20th of July 1969, as part of the Apollo 11 mission. That moment, is arguably, one of the most inspirational and humanity defining moment that the entire world has ever witnessed. During the minutes of the first lunar landing, three sites across the world were streaming back, in almost real-time, these historic moments – Goldstone in California; and Honeysuckle Creek, & the Parkes Radio Telescope, in New South Wales, Australia. Yet, those words were spoken more than fifty years ago, and there is a new generation of young Australians ready to help be part of the moon-shot space workforce.
Australia’s Space Capabilities Whilst it may be perceived by the global public (including Australians!) that Australia has since shied away from the space domain, this is actually untrue. The period between
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the 1960’s to today, has seen Australia support global space endeavours (and by extension, defence) and is now home to some of the most critical space assets and infrastructure. The Deep Space Communication Complex in the Australian Capital Territory (part of NASA’s Deep Space Network) supporting deep space missions; the Learmonth Solar Observatory supporting space weather monitoring and the Radio Quiet Zone near the Square Kilometre Array, Western Australia or Parkes Radio Telescope, New South Wales, both supporting Astronomy and Astrophysics objectives. Australia’s role in the Wideband Global SATCOM system, further emphasizes the commitment to the global space domain, has included the fostering of relationships between both the civil and defence sectors. Together, these are just some of Australia’s Space Assets that highlight that Australia has, and always will be, a serious player in the space sector. Highlighted in KPMG’s Newsroom Article on Australia’s
National Space Asset Footprint, each and every one of these are critical, not only nationally, but internationally, for space and defence, and for Earth. With the establishment of the Australian Space Agency in 2018 and Australia’s recent Moon to Mars initiative designed to highlight the nation’s capabilities to support the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Moon to Mars Program, the country is just getting ready for lift off. Not only does this couple Australia’s objectives with that of the global space industry, but emphasises an uplift in Australia’s capabilities over its seven (7) National Civil Space Priority Areas and relevant Sovereign Defence Priorities. The Australian Space Agency specifically funds these priorities across the Trailblazer, Supply Chain program and the Demonstrator Program; and there has been great interest for domestic expansion in sovereign space capabilities, some of which are remarkably world-leading and innovating beyond the norm to deliver capabilities the world has never seen before. These capabilities, stemming from space-based Internet of Things (IoT), world-class remote operations and autonomy, and Earth Observation as just some of many that are changing the national and global space playing field, amongst others that are radically changing the status quo, for example, for launch operations. What is clear, is that the outcomes of these programs aligned to Australia’s National Civil and Defence Priority areas are placing Australia at the forefront of a number of capabilities to support the space domain and complement global strategic space missions. One of the top insights from KPMG’s 30 Voices on 2030 (which reflects on the future of space from the communal, commercial and contested perspective by global space thought leaders), is that space travel will be a collaborative multinational venture. While these priority areas highlight purposefully disparate, yet convergent, space assets and technologies. Some of these capabilities Australia has exemplified technological leadership, and others represent areas to follow not too far behind with an injection of funds to upskill the workforce and research and development capabilities, as well as polic y setting.
Opportunities For Australian Leadership While funding space technology maturation can be demanding, the dual-use technology allows for these priority areas to led through the defence space sector. As the Australian defence budget has allocated funds to build sovereign space capabilities, particularly in the areas of space communications and space domain awareness, there needs to be a close dialogue amongst all stakeholders to ensure this once in a lifetime investment establishing Australia’s critical space infrastructure meets all national priorities and provide interoperable and complementary engagement to international partnerships. Conversely, however, here lies the opportunity for Australia, to lead aspects of the space ecosystem.
Figure 1: KPMG - Australian Space Assets: scattered and small but a good foundation for growth
Figure 2: Australia's Overlapping Space and Defence Priorities
With $7 billion AUD in defence over the next ten years (announced in 2021) and the initial $300 million AUD budget (announced in 2018) plus the newly announced $65 million AUD (announced in 2022) for civil space and industry, this is a once in a lifetime investment for the nation. For example, Australia has retained a world-class and unrivalled capability in the field of remote operations and autonomy from their mining expertise. Extending this capability is the implementation of autonomous robotics. While South Korea is a recognised leader in the realm of wheeled, humanoid, bipedal and quadrupedal robotics, however it is a capability that many across the globe are seeking to replicate. The question here is not ‘why is this the case’, but how we can reduce duplication for the purposes of collaboration. Honing in on the Asia Pacific region, countries such as Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, India all have near equivalent capabilities to
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Figure 3: Whilst not indicative of the current landscape, the future of a 'Hub-and-Spoke' model may change market share.
emulate similar success but may be strained due to a number of reasons, including economic and technological constraints. As the next example highlights, maybe the supporting infrastructure is not as widely available to support a maturely developed capability. What this doesn’t mean, is a country need to hold back or reduce its level of desire and drive. Whereas in Australia over the past 12 months, two new Lunar Testbeds, one at Fugro’s Space Automation, AI, and Robotics Control complex (SpAARC) in Perth, Western Australia and a second for Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia has been approved for development. These will be used to simulate the harsh environmental conditions of the Moon, providing a capability to rigorously test in an analogous situation before deployment. These two augments an already existing site at CSIRO in Brisbane, Australia. The only other similar-in-likeness commercially known infrastructure to date resides within the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Sagamihara Campus. This highlights Australia has the supporting infrastructure needed in the robotics domain. As a result, it Australia retains a capability that could be leveraged for the entire Asia Pacific region in the testing of robotics and autonomous systems, presenting Australia as a potential leader for the region in simulation and testing, to be augmented by the already earmarked World-Class Remote Operations and Autonomy.
What is presented thereafter is akin to a ‘Hub-andSpoke’ model, with Australia central to this capability (the hub) due to its infrastructure, and other countries being the value drivers for this capability (the spokes). This could be any capability for that matter. It reduces the strain on skillsets, emphasizing collaboration and creates a model similar to that of the European Space Agency, who interface with participating European member states for different skills, technologies and other capabilities. Importantly, this model, or ideology is not restricted to any one of Australia’s national civil and defence space priority areas, but across all. Understanding that regulations and policies may limit this somewhat, Australia has leveraged the use of Memorandum of Understanding’s (MoU) and other bilateral and multilateral agreements to provide that collaborative model of working towards a common goal. This has also extended towards trade agreements and strategic alliances, such as the recent AUKUS agreement, and negotiations towards a Technology Safeguards Agreement with the U.S. It enables Australia to capitalise on its strengths across the global (and ASPAC) space ecosystem to be at the forefront of innovation and offset its weaknesses by staying involved across other elements that it may be seen more as a Fast Follower. Ultimately, highlighting Australia’s opportunity to b e designated as the ‘hub’ in the Asia Pacific region.
Next Steps For The Nation Australia has always been a key player in the space sector, and as it ramps up in its capabilities, enabled by Australian Space Agency funded grants and programs, or backed by Venture Capitalists and Silent Investors, it will accelerate onto the world stage. With $7 billion AUD in defence over the next ten years (announced in 2021) and the initial $300 million AUD budget (announced in 2018) plus the newly announced $65 million AUD (announced in 2022) for civil space and industry, this is a once in a lifetime investment for the nation that can see Australia ‘leap-frog’ into the space domain. Australia’s ambitions to join NASA in delivery of a ‘foundation services rover’ no earlier than 2026, may be the catalyst for its return, back to the future.
Figure 4: Outcomes highlighted in the 2021 Parliamentary Inquiry into the Space Sector around Australia’s role in Space
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Phil Bland John Curtin Distinguished Professor
We speak to Professor Phil Bland, Director, Space Science and Technology Centre, Curtin University about the risky experiment Australia is undertaking in its funding of the national space industry. "In the past few years, Australia has formed its own space agency and launched a defence “space command”. Billions of dollars for defence, and hundreds of millions for civilian space, have been allocated from the public purse to develop capability in this growing sector. This funding covers the Moon-to-Mars Program, the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre, the Modern Manufacturing Initiative, opportunities in defence, various state-funded projects such as SA-SAT, and more. This level of investment is unquestionably a good thing. But the great majority of it supports applied research and engineering, and commercialisation of outcomes. None of the new funding goes to basic research."
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Defence Minister announces stand up of Australia’s space command
By Andrew Curran Correspondent MySecurity Media
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ustralia's military is deepening its involvement in space with the stand-up of Australia's Defence Space Command. Headed by Air Vice Marshall Cath Roberts, Space Command will draw upon personnel across the ADF, Australia's Space Agency, the public and private sectors. Defence Minister Peter Dutton announced the standup at the Royal Australia Air Force's Air and Space Power Conference in Canberra in March. The Minister says the organisation will be a "modest" version of similar space bodies set up by Australia's allies. "Space is already contested, particularly as the boundaries between competition and conflict become increasingly blurred," said Mr Dutton. "We know that some countries are developing capabilities to threaten or degrade space networks, to target satellites, to destroy space systems – countries that see space as a territory for the taking rather than to be shared." The Defence Minister called the activation of Australia's Space Command a necessary endeavour and in the country's national interest. "While space is primarily a civil domain, it will undoubtedly become a domain which takes on a greater military significance this century, a domain which is now an operational theatre that provides space-based communications, intelligence, and navigation to the Joint Force," Mr Dutton said. The Australian Government laid the foundations for its own Space Command Centre earlier this year. Reporting to the Chief of Air Force, Space Command's overarching aim is to secure Australia's strategic space ambitions and access to space.
Defence Space Command has several key objectives. Firstly, the military agency will develop and advocate for space-specific priorities across whole of government, industry, allies, and international partners. Secondly, Space Command will allow the ADF to create an organisation to recruit, train and sustain skilled personnel and assign trained space specialists to the Chief of Joint Operations when needed. The agency will also lead on strategic space planning, assist in the development and refinement of space policy, guide scientific and technological space priorities, and define a national space architecture in close collaboration with Australia's allies. "Defence Space Command is Australia's contribution towards a larger collective among like-minded countries to ensure a safe, stable, and secure space domain," said the defence minister today."While developing our sovereign space capabilities, we will not only become more selfreliant but also a better ally and partner." Mr Dutton also confirmed on Tuesday that Australia and the United States are strengthening their space and military alliances to support their mutual space ambitions. The Minister said Australia's Department of Defence and the US National Reconnaissance Office will cooperate on a broad range of satellite activities, expanding Australia's space knowledge and capabilities. "Our partnership will also contribute to the US National Reconnaissance Office's pursuit of more capable, integrated, and resilient space architecture to support coverage in a wide range of intelligence mission requirements."
Episode 309 – International Space Bridge Series #1 - A conversation with Deputy Director General at the Philippine Space Agency
A conversation with the Deputy Director General at the Philippine Space Agency
Interview with Dr Gay Jane P. Perez, Deputy Director General for Space Science and Technology (DDG-SST), Republic of the Philippines - Office of the President - Philippine Space Agency. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (20102011). She is a graduate of the National Institute of Physics at the University of the Philippines Diliman, from which she received Bachelor of Science in Applied Physics (2003), Master of Science (2005), and Doctor of Philosophy in Physics (2009). 00:00
Dr Gay Jane P. Perez Deputy Director General, Philippine Space Agency
LISTEN HERE Australia Riskin Leaders Space Magazine | 31 w w w . s p a c e a n d d e f e n s eSPACE . i oMAGAZINE SPECIAL | Cyber
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Space is the place for Australia’s defence
By Dr Malcolm Davis Senior Analyst Australian Strategic Policy Institute
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he importance of the space domain is fast soaring to a new zenith as the Australian Defence Force con front the growing challenge of assuring space access for the ADF and sustaining space control in an ever more contested operational environment. The establishment of a Defence Space Command as of January 2022, led by Air Vice Marshal Catherine Roberts, marks a huge step forward in Australia’s thinking about space as an operational environment. It marks an end to the traditional approach of past decades which saw a disparate and scattered management of individual space projects, and a perception of space capability almost as an afterthought, which was at best, simply an enabling capability provided by foreign and commercial partners. There’s now broad acceptance within government of the importance of developing sovereign space capability, including both a range of communications and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance satellites, and Australian companies are moving quickly to establish a sovereign space launch capability. This transformation in thinking on space has occurred only recently, with an emerging commercial space sector that has appeared from about 2015, and which is now rapidly growing in cooperation with the Australian Space Agency that was established in 2018.
In Defence, the traditional dependency on foreign provided space capability is receding as new sovereign capability emerges, whilst a review of Defence’s approach to the space domain is now underway, including the preparation of a new Defence Space Strategy document, which is due to be signed off by government this year. In sum, Australian thinking about space has become far more sophisticated and ambitious in the last seven years. It marks a step change in how Australia’s approach to the use of space, not only for defence but also for broader commercial and civil purposes, is evolving. A number of factors can account for this shift in thinking. Australia’s strategic outlook has deteriorated since the release of the 2016 Defence White paper, with the 2020 Defence Strategic Update and its accompanying Force Structure Plan recognizing that the risk of major power war is less remote than at the time of the 2016 White Paper. Appropriately, the 2020 update made clear that the traditional assumption of ten years strategic warning time for a major conventional attack against Australia is no longer an appropriate basis for defence planning. Australia doesn’t have the luxury of a decade to plan for, and equip for major power war, particularly given increasing strategic competition in the Indo-Pacific between China
and the United States, and given the rapid modernisation of the PLA, which has seen a dramatic expansion of its space and counterspace capability. Time is short, especially if the predictions of a growing crisis over Taiwan culminating in a cross straits invasion by China occur within this decade. With space being critical to the ADF’s ability to undertake joint and integrated warfare both for the defence of Australia, and also for expeditionary operations as part of a coalition, its vital that the ADF reduce risk generated by over-dependency on others for critical military capabilities. In a more stable strategic environment that dependency was an acceptable risk, but the growing likelihood of major power war in this decade means that greater investment in sovereign space capability reduces the risks of dependency. This is not to imply that Australia must have fully autarkic space capability. It lacks the skills and technological base for building large satellites that will provide the basis for key projects such as the next generation satellite communications system (JP-9102) or future intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance satellites (DEF-799 Phase 2). Its almost certain that major overseas primes will lead these key projects in this decade and beyond. However, the Australian government needs to be ready and responsive to make full use of Australian small and
medium enterprises (SMEs) within the rapidly growing commercial space sector to develop sovereign space capabilities based around small satellite technology and launched by low-cost launch vehicles that are developed locally. Small satellite systems can augment large satellites such as those planned for JP-9102 and DEF-799, to provide added capability and boost resilience in the face of growing counterspace threats. Also, government recognises that investing in sovereign space capability is no longer unaffordable. Concepts such as ‘Space 2.0’ and ‘newSpace’ that emphasize low-cost space access via cheaper, smaller technologies, in which the commercial sector leads, is at the heart of Australia’s approach to space capability, with the Australian Space Agency’s main goal being to grow the commercial space sector. Australia’s approach emphasises that there’s no need to recreate a ‘NASA down under’, and instead, embraces rapid innovation through low-cost commercial space technologies. These offer Defence a new way to utilise space and build sovereign space capabilities at affordable levels of investment. In short, Australia can afford to develop its own space capabilities to support the operational requirements of the ADF, and to allow Australia to ‘burden share in orbit’ with allies to a much greater
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The 2020 Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan highlighted the importance of Australia pursuing both enhanced space domain awareness, as well as moving towards developing effective space control capabilities that could ensure space access for the ADF but also counter threats to allies in orbit. degree than it has in the past. There are real opportunities for space in Australia’s defence diplomacy. The signing of the AUKUS agreement on 16th September 2021 opens up new opportunities for collaboration on critical and emerging technologies, and cooperation in space technology is a natural fit for activities to be undertaken under AUKUS. Building closer cooperation with other partners in the Indo-Pacific region, through both the ‘five eyes’ and also via the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (‘the Quad’) also creates new opportunities for Defence to work with partners to manage emerging space security risks and challenges, especially those posed by Chinese and Russian counterspace systems. The growing threat of counterspace technologies mean that Australia has to take space control seriously. The 2020 Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan highlighted the importance of Australia pursuing both enhanced space domain awareness, as well as moving towards developing effective space control capabilities that could ensure space access for the ADF but also counter threats to allies in orbit. Russia’s test of a ‘kinetic kill ASAT’ on 15th November 2021, and the continued development of a suite of ‘hard kill’ and ‘soft kill’ counterspace technologies by both China and Russia have reinforced the reality that the days of assured space access for Australia are over. Instead, the ADF operating alongside its allies, will need to gain and maintain space control, which can’t be done if Australia is dependent on others in space. The threat posed by counterspace systems is only going to worsen in coming years. Direct-ascent kinetic-kill ASATs, such as demonstrated by China, Russia and India, and which are operationally deployed by China, will be complemented co-orbital ASATs. It’s co-orbital ASATs that are perhaps more threatening because their use is likely to feature ‘soft kill’ technologies based around jamming, directed-energy weapons, or direct physical interference of a satellite. These can generate scalable effect (in the case of jamming) and can disable or deny rather than destroy. As such, they don’t generate a large debris field associated with kinetic kill ASATs, and therefore, are far more likely to be employed in a crisis, including to exploit grey zone effects. Ground-based interference, including cyber-attack on satellites and their associated ground-segment adds to the complexity facing the ADF in space. Space is an ‘operational domain’ but it seems almost certain that prior
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to, or at the outset of any war, it will become a ‘warfighting domain’ and the ADF alongside its key allies in the region need to be ready both to try to deter attacks in space, but also to defend against threats if they appear. The ‘space control’ task for the ADF, as highlighted in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, alongside expanding ADF Space Domain Awareness (SDA) under project JP-9360 is going to be important in coming years. SDA is Defence’s Operation Dyurra which integrates space capabilities, services and effects into wider operations, and provides critical data to the US-led Operation Olympic Defender Space Surveillance network. Building this capability for space control must be a key priority for Defence Space Command in coming years and would complement Australia’s involvement in international diplomacy to define what constitutes responsible behavior in space. Australia is fully engaged in dialogue via a UN Open Ended Working Group, which was established late last year following the tabling of UN General Assembly Resolution 75-36 by the United Kingdom. Ultimately, the space control task will require Defence to consider the importance of rapid augmentation and reconstitution of space capabilities in a crisis. Through enhanced SDA that will emerge under JP-9360, Australia and its allies can deny an adversary anonymity if they act in an irresponsible or threatening manner and can have better tactical warning of an emerging threat to take defensive measures. Yet, having the ability to launch Australian satellites on Australian launch vehicles from Australian launch sites in a manner that is responsive to rapidly changing tactical and operational requirements, should be a key goal for both Defence and the Australian Space Agency. It would mark the coming of age for Australia in space and mark a decisive break from past decades of dependency on others. It is this goal that should drive Defence Space Command in the coming decade as they consider how Australia’s defence force plays a role on the high frontier.
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L E A R N M O R E AT
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Sovereign launch strategy By Dr Chris Flaherty
recent statement from the South Korean Defense Ministry, called: “Space a ‘core’ area for building national security capabilities … [adding] … the country is building new launch sites and infrastructure” (Kim, 2022). Not all countries have pursued building a local Space-Launching ability. In the late 1960s, the United Kingdom developed its capability to launch the Black Arrow rocket from Woomera in Australia. Only to cancel the following year, after the UK Ministry of Defence decided to use the United States’ Scout rocket. This historically earned the reputation as the, “only nation to build a launch capability and then scrap it after the first launch” (Allison, 2022). Sovereign Launch Strategy is primarily an outcome of two factors: (1) Global Position; the other, (2) Dependency.
SOVEREIGN LAUNCH STRATEGY AND GLOBAL POSITION Sovereign Launch Strategy, is underpinned by a, “Sovereign Space-Launch Capability.” (Damp, 2021) What this actually means in terms of launch options varies, a variety of approaches are known. For instance, in the wake of the breakup of the Soviet Union, its key Land-Based Space Launching Facility: Baikonur Cosmodrome, fell into the newly formed Republic of Kazakhstan, requiring Roscosmos
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to enter into an ongoing leasing arrangement. Having lost its Sovereign Space-Launch Capability, Russia has actively pursued other options such as a Sea-Launching Capability. The recent Russian announcement as to the renewal of the LP Odyssey, was made by the Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov on the sidelines of the Army-2020 Forum (TASS, 2020). Russia’s renewal of the LP Odyssey was not linked to any military purpose; it is nevertheless likely to be in any countries’ national-strategic interests to have a Sea-Based Space-Launch Capability. Similar thinking, has been expressed by Chinese researchers, who have pursued a program looking at building a vessel similar to the LP Odyssey; reflecting the strategic notion: “breakthrough in Sea-Launch technology will enable China to launch medium and large satellites and constellations ‘both on land and sea’, especially into Low-Inclination Low-Earth Orbits … and it allows China to remain competitive in the fast-paced Space Industry.” (Song, 2020) Private companies like SpaceX have actively pursued SeaBased Space-Launching as a means to increase their launch options, as the Boca Chica site, due to land area limitations, environmental issues, and surrounding population density is sub-optimal compared to Cape Canaveral. Largely seen as one of the optimal Space-Launch Facilities globally for
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Equatorial Launching, getting consignments in Earth Orbit, or sending a vehicle into the Solar System. Whereas, the European Union, in order to get the benefit of Equatorial Launch has relied on the Guiana Space Centre, which like Cape Canaveral, and Boca Chica, all share a common strategic position - open sea to the East. The reason for this are two-fold, firstly under international safety practices, a Space rocket launch needs a clear path to fly-over as it leaves the Earth’s surface in case of a failure. Secondly, the Earth rotates Eastward on its axis, so launching a rocket towards the East gets an additional big boost from Earth’s rotational motion. The exceptions to the rule, for Strategic Eastwards Launch, is operations at the United Kingdom’s premier Spaceport Cornwall (Newquay Airport) which effectively launches Westwards over the Irish Sea, as it is primarily specialising in Horizontal Air-Based Launching with services provided by the Virgin Orbit 747 launch aircraft. Cornwall’s runway design allows it the advantage for other Spaceplane landings, which will occur under the Sierra Space Dream Chaser Agreement. Northwards, a line of major Spaceports are being developed for vertical launches in Scotland, and Norway (Andøya Spaceport). The strategic option is intended for Polar and Sun-Synchronous Orbits, which are best reached from a far-Northern latitude. Scotland, and Norway
Spaceports have key safety advantage surrounded by the sea, allowing launches to take place over water, and sparsely populated areas. In the Southern Hemisphere, the continental mass of Australia, presents another line of global optimal strategic launch options. Traditionally, the Eyre Peninsula, and Woomera in South Australia are seen as the best location to reach High-Inclination Orbits: An orbit of a Spacecraft that has a high tilted angle from the Equator, as well as the Polar Orbit market. The Eyre Peninsula launches fly Southwards over the Great Australian Bight, over water where there is no delicate marine environments and has minimal air and maritime traffic. While landwards, the flightpath is over coastline with very-low population occupation. Baikonur Cosmodrome, like China’s Launch Facilities: Jiuquan, Taiyuan and Xichang, are all inland. The sites were originally chosen for qualities such as flat land (Taiyuan is surrounded by mountains), sparsely populated areas, and fair weather conditions. More recently, issues such as settlement encroachments, continued use of toxic and highly polluting fuel being dumped down-course, poor weather, and in one location insect infestations, has detracted from the facilities’ attractiveness as optimal launch options. Australia’s inland Woomera site still retains the benefit of a safe launch option, as the area remains nilto-sparsely populated. cont next page >>
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launch vehicles can rapidly transfer consignments
in geographically far-off places. In the 1960s, the United Kingdom had to use Australia. Russia, is in a tenuous relationship with Kazakhstan, the European Union’s option is located in Guiana. Many countries are in commercial relationships with United States’ based companies. The United States’ connection also includes Rocket Lab’s operations in New Zealand, at its Mahia Launch Complex (Spaceport) on the East coast of the North Island.
from one Launch Facility to another.
China and potentially Australia have the advantage of multiple launch options, spread over a large geographical area. China’s use of a suite of compatible
DEPENDENCY At the end of WW2, two countries: soon to be the World’s Superpowers were able to leverage captured German V2 rocket technology, to achieve reaching a new strategic frontier, the ability to circumnavigate the Earth with a Space vehicle. Having a Sovereign Space-Launch Capability was an historical accident that came about due to, “the military quest for ultra-long-range rockets that has provided man with new machinery so powerful that it can readily put satellites in orbit” (White House, 1958). Space Dependency was a later development. As Space Launching Capability proliferated, countries began to develop Sovereign Space-Launch Capability. The United Kingdom example from the 1960s, is one well-documented case, where as a national strategy it opted for Dependency on the United States to meet its needs to get into Space, and this led to merging its Space Capabilities into first the European Common Market, and later the European Union. The Brexit Era has seen a return to building in the United Kingdom several Sovereign Space-Launch Capabilities, spread over a number of Spaceports located on the British Isles. Countries seeking to developed Space-Based Economies are sometimes locked into permanent Dependency relationships, with others that have Sovereign Space-Launch Capabilities. The Dependent country does not have the ability to build a rocket industry, or do not have access to an optimal geographical site to launch from. The recent debacle over Roscosmos’ withdrawing its role in international Space operations, brought about by sanctions, and counter-sanctions over the Russian invasion of Ukraine illustrates a key aspect of Dependency. Ideally, due to its role in the International Space Station, and ongoing launch schedules, the strategic course should have been declaring Roscosmos having a ‘detente-status’ contained away from the conflict. Instead, a phony Space twitter war was declared, and the Roscosmos Director ordered ‘V’ and ‘Z’ symbols painted on various Baikonur Cosmodrome facilities, and on a rocket that was launched. The Roscosmos debacle emphasised a key vulnerability in current Space Launching Operations, namely Dependency on a particular launch option. The Roscosmos debacle effected launch windows for OneWeb internet satellites, ExoMars rover mission, and several other European Space Agency planned missions. Dependency relationships underpins the ‘working side’ of Space Launching Operations. Not all countries have Space rockets, launch facilities, or these are located
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Sudden Space-Launch Industry growth, and proliferation of various proprietary rocket designs has led to configuration problems, where consignments are being designed for specific rocket types. To date, a variety of bespoke launch facility options, include the practice, where whole Spaceports are largely being built to service a particular rocket design. The commercial impetus is that the existence of a Spaceport is largely dictated by its exclusive commercial arrangements with a specific Launch Provider. However, political crisis, bad weather, and rocket malfunctions remain a bar to a successful launch schedule. China and potentially Australia have the advantage of multiple launch options, spread over a large geographical area. China’s use of a suite of compatible launch vehicles can rapidly transfer consignments from one Launch Facility to another. The ability, ‘to outrun bad weather’ or move between various geographical positions has been the major driver of launch strategies based on using Sea-Based launching by Russia, China, and SpaceX developing floating ex-oil rigs as launching platforms; Black Arrow (United Kingdom) developing a ship launching platform; and South Korea’s use of a jack-up ex-oil rig as a launching platform. Strategic pressure to find optimal Launch Points on the Earth’s surface, will lead to massive international competition, and countries with premium Land-Based options may have other countries place their Sovereign Space-Launch Capability there, if they want it or not.
Dr Space Junk presents 5 questions. Dr Alice Gorman
Space Archaeologist at Flinders University By Kelly Yeoh
lice Gorman is a space archaeologist at Flinders University, Adelaide, and a member of the Advisory Council of the Space Industry Association of Australia. Every issue she will showcase up-and-coming talent, thought leaders, and companies in the Australian space sector. In this issue, her guest is Kelly Yeoh. Kelly is a lawyer and former computer programmer with a lifelong love of space, and a far more recent realisation that she could forge a career within the sector. Kelly is one third of the team behind Blue Dwarf Space, with big plans to revolutionise regulatory processes to make space more accessible, while still ensuring security considerations and ethical integrity are maintained.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far?
I think, as a parent, I might be obliged to say “my 13yo” ;) Blue Dwarf is at such an early stage, I really can’t speak to that as an accomplishment. I would have to say all the work I have put into getting to this point. The re-education from technology to law, positioning myself to enter the space sector and with enough passion and enthusiasm to not only be granted a scholarship to attend the International Space University Southern Hemisphere Space Studies Program (SHSSP), but now also the ICC Venture Catalyst Space programme (based on our
proposal for Blue Dwarf).
2. What was the most useful subject you studied at school or university for your current career? Oh gosh, this is a tough one. Having recently completed the SHSSP, I wouldn’t know where to begin! Our start-up plans are a mixture of my former life as a computer programmer, usability specialist, and teacher, intermingled with my legal studies, and I couldn’t really say which component is the more predominant one. This SHSSP, however, has left my mind spinning with excitement and possibility, and with a far better understanding of a broad range of considerations when providing a service dealing with compliance requirements in the space industry.
3. What are you currently reading and how does it relate to your space work? Book: Beyond Entrepreneurship by Jim Collins and Bill Lazier, because I am very new to this start-up business and want to learn everything I can, without reinventing the wheel. Podcasts: we often listen to unsolved crime whilst taking road trips, which I’m expecting to never have to apply to my career in the space sector! We also often listen to Space Nuts,
and always love Annie Handmer’s Space Junk podcast. If you’re looking for something to read, might I recommend our (SHSSP) paper: “Using Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning for Optimizing Space Mission Strategies. Test Case: Optimize Lunar Outpost Specifications”
4. If you went on a one-way trip to Mars tomorrow, what is the one item you couldn’t leave without and why? My 13yo (because they are watching me answer this question). A gaming device with a card full of Earth-based entertainment so that I wouldn’t miss home quite so much, and because we wouldn’t be able to rely on the Earth-rise effect for entertainment and connection. Or a guitar.
5. What is your vision for the future of Australian space industry? I am excited about what we can accomplish. Australians have a long history of incredible innovation and achievement, with so much of our efforts moving to international shores where there is a ready and willing market. I would love to see us really celebrating and owning our own successes, encouraging new and forward thinking, without losing who we are, and what we owe to each other and our environment.
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SpAARC ignites Australia’s space sector
By Andrew Curran Correspondent MySecurity Media
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he still young Australian space sector is small but already shows signs of punching above its weight. Hundreds of companies, big and small, are establishing space programs in Australia, tapping into a growing skill base, some unique and valuable capabilities, and the increasing government and institutional interest in space. Fugro, a geo-data company, provides geological analysis from most places on Earth - above and below the waterline. Fugro is also an example of a company increasingly interested in expanding their capabilities into space. Last year, after winning funding from the Australian Space Agency (ASA) and Western Australia Government, Fugro confirmed Perth as the primary site for its global robotics and remote operations via the establishment of the Australian Space Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Control Complex (SpAARC). “The remote operation of autonomous and robotic systems in space is a huge area of opportunity for Australian industry, and SpAARC will be critical to us realising that opportunity,” said the Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo. From its time prospecting some of the Earth’s more challenging underwater and above water terrain, Fugro
already has well established remote operations capabilities. Western Australia is home to some of the world’s biggest and most isolated mining and resource companies, who are also keen users of and have considerable expertise in remote operations. It makes Perth a bit of a hotbed for remote operations research and development. Manned missions to the Moon and beyond capture plenty of headlines, but in reality, manned space missions are dangerous and very expensive. Nearly all ventures into space involved unmanned spacecraft, with the exploration of other planets and moons using remote operations technology – and Australia’s longstanding expertise in this field gives the country’s embryonic space sector a key competitive advantage. That’s something companies like Fugro, via SpAARC, are keen to benefit from. “If we go back to 2015, we were a fairly traditional oil and gas services contractor in Australia,” says Samuel Forbes, Fugro’s SpAARC Director. “We started to solve a number of complex problems that overlap in other industries that overlap the mining sector. They overlap with the military and unbeknownst to us, there was an interesting overlap with the space sector. The nice thing for us is this all lining up with the emerging Australian space sector – the creation of the Australian space industry.
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We’re really interested in building a capability that can be exploited across multiple robotic platforms – space is simply another operating domain, and we’re working on that challenge now.” This is not just rhetoric from the SpAARC Director. He’s brought some big guns with years of experience in the space sector onboard. One of those people is Dawn McIntosh. Ms McIntosh started at Fugro Australia in October 2021 as their Space Systems Director. Her arrival was somewhat of a coup for Fugro, having worked at NASA for more than 20 years, most recently as Associate Division Chief of Mission Systems and the BioSentinel Project Manager. It is a big leap from NASA to Perth. Fugro’s new Space Systems Director says it was a combination of factors that attracted her. She liked that Fugro wanted to make space a key part of their portfolio rather than a side project. Australia’s ground floor position in the space industry also appealed. The jump from a legacy organisation like NASA to a place where the space industry was relatively small but had enormous potential was attractive. “Space is still brand new in Australia,” Ms McIntosh says. “That’s interesting, coming from NASA, which has a lot of structure and organisation around it; it’s interesting to think about space from the ground floor and what that looks like,
and that was really appealing to me.” A flagship project for SpAARC is participating in NASA’s return to the Moon. SpAARC is heavily vested in the Australian Government’s Trailblazer program to put a rover on the Moon in 2026. Dawn McIntosh says projects like this are fun and exciting to design, but there are millions of little steps along to way to that happening, which she refers to as the non-space side of space. Getting that rover to the Moon will be a collaborative effort that will involve many businesses, universities, and people with an interest in space. Harnessing, nurturing, and embedding this collective pool of talent into the space industry is what Ms McIntosh calls laying a “foundation” for the Australian space industry and is something she finds herself enjoying doing. Because of programs like Trailblazer, Ms McIntosh says the Australian space industry will learn how to run complex space missions from Earth, and each one will be run a little bit better than the last. “How we continue to grow and innovate in that domain is very interesting to me,” she said. “In the next few years, we’re going to see a lot more missions to the Moon. We’re going to the South Pole (of the Moon) – something like four or five plus missions are heading specifically there. I think that based on the outcomes of these early missions, there will be a large growth in space missions. I’m specifically thinking of lunar missions, but we’ve got Mars around the corner and then other planetary bodies that could be on the list." I really want SpAARC to be a central player in how that plays out and how we execute that in Australia. I think we’re set up to do so, and it makes sense for SpAARC to be that base and foundation for these upcoming missions.” Dawn McIntosh also believes the Australian space sector is on the cusp of something big. She expects substantial changes and progress in the global space sector over the next two or three years. Fugro’s Space Systems Director is keen to see how that plays out in Australia. “I think the growth rate (of the Australian space sector) is going to increase dramatically.”
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AROSE is helping take Australia’s remote mining capabilities into space By Andrew Curran Correspondent MySecurity Media
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he Western Australia mining sector has a longstanding reputation for being at the forefront of remote mining technologies. Big-name miners like Fortescue, BHP, Rio Tinto, and Newmont have invested heavily in automated machinery and remote-controlled processes. Now the push is on to transfer Western Australia's remote mining capabilities to space, with widespread acknowledgement Australia's expertise in this area could give the country a crucial edge in the space sector. In 2018, the Australian Government established the Australian Space Agency (ASA) to manage and guide Australia's growing involvement in the space sector. Right away, the ASA identified the robotics and automation capacities that existed in the mining and resources sectors as a valuable capability many other countries vying to compete in the space sector lack. Australia isn't new to the space sector. South Australia's Woomera Rocket Range was a busy place in the 1950s and 1960s. During those two decades, with the Cold War in full swing, Woomera was the second busiest rocket range in the world after Cape Canaveral. But in later decades, Australia's interest and involvement in the space sector waned. It is only more recently, as space became increasingly commercialised and subject to growing military interest, that Australia officially
began to get involved again. On the back of that renewed commercial, defence, and government interest, and with local space startups popping up like mushrooms, the Australian Government set up the ASA. The space agency quickly confirmed that remote mining technology was Australia's ticket into the space sector. The potential to transfer remote mining technology to space wasn't going unnoticed in Western Australia either. In 2020, with funding from the Western Australian Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation, a Perth-based not-for-profit consortium called AROSE, or Australian Remote Operations in Space and on Earth, was formed. Michelle Keegan, Program Director at AROSE, says Australia's remote operations expertise at the time was strong, and the not-for-profit was set up to create a group that pulled together and leveraged that expertise to take it into space. She says forming around the same time the ASA was established was a case of good timing. However, the ASA also being on the same wavelength regarding remote operations capabilities in Australia's own backyard was even more fortuitous. "Until you're in the space sector, it isn't until you really become aware of the amazing (remote operations) capability that just sits here… It is a new industry but growing quite rapidly, and a great space," Ms Keegan says. The ASA says “Australia is a world leader in remote
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asset management in industries including mining, oil and gas, transport, agriculture, and fisheries. Australia can leverage its expertise in robotics technology and systems for remote operation and exploration in Space.” Like many other people now working on remote operations in the space sector in Western Australia, Michelle Keegan has a mining background, most recently the Program Director for Technology Development at South32. "The work I did there really did start to scan the globe around both thought leadership and current technologies to build into those operations," she says. Ms Keegan adds that when you look at the challenges facing remote mining operations through a space lens, the challenges become far more complex. It means you need to look at new ways of doing things and solving problems. For AROSE, the way forward is collaboration and co-opting the skills and expertise in Western Australia. Founding partners at AROSE include Nova, Woodside, Curtin University, the University of Western Australia, Western Australia's Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science, and Innovation, and Fugro. One early result was AROSE collaborating with Curtin's Space Science and Technology Centre on the Binar Space Program which is developing five CubeSats, the first of which launched last August as part of the SpaceX CRS-23 commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. "AROSE brings together the best of Australian industry with the most advanced technology and leading WA scientists, on a project that has got deliverables in the economy and in research," says Professor Phil Bland, Director of Curtin's Space Science and Technology Centre. "We can leverage industry expertise in Australia to take remote operations into space and deliver solutions that benefit the Australia–NASA Moon-to-Mars program." Participation in NASA's Artemis Moon-to-Mars program is the medium-term holy grail for many participants in Australia's space sector. The Australian Government has sealed a deal with NASA to build a semi-autonomous rover here that will hitch a ride to the Moon in 2026 to collect lunar soil (regolith). NASA wants to extract oxygen from the regolith to support a sustainable human presence on the Moon. For the Australian space sector, it is a chance to show off its undisputed skills and experience in remote operations and autonomous systems. To this end, in 2021, AROSE received a funding boost from the ASA to develop a feasibility study for a remotely operated construction rover. "A rover on the moon needs to do as much as it can in an automated way," says Michelle Keegan. "We can't go fixing something if it breaks. We can't be there in the same way as we could be in the Pilbara." That 2021 funding facilitated research that led AROSE recently submitting a formal tender to the ASA to be part of the Trailblazer program. Trailblazer is making $50 million Federal Funding available for Australian businesses and researchers to help develop the rover. "The Trailblazer program starts with the goal of taking people back to the Moon, and there are a number of things that are necessary to enable that sustained presence, and a number of those elements can be supported by
the capability that we already have in Australia," AROSE's Program Director adds. Following the submission of that tender, AROSE recently formed a Resources Advisory Board to support the delivery of the mission of AROSE, to take Australia's remote operations expertise to space and optimise the learnings for terrestrial applications. Enrico Palermo, head of the ASA, says Australians should be proud of and excited about the local space sector taking part in the Moon-to-Mars project. "You can't help to be inspired and get excited about the possibilities."
"Until you're in the space sector, it isn't until you really become aware of the amazing (remote operations) capability that just sits here… It is a new industry but growing quite rapidly, and a great space,"
AROSE Resources Advisory Board Mr Peter Rossdeutscher has taken on the role of Advisory Board Chair of the Resources Advisory Board, in addition to his roles as Principal, Atomic Sky, Founder QuantumTX, and Board Director, Minex CRC. The Board’s Deputy Chair is Ms. Michelle Keegan, who joined AROSE in 2021 as Program Director and who has more than 25 years of experience in mining, strategy, and technology development across the resources and chemical industries.
• • • • • • • •
Heid Edwards, General Manager of Research, Development and Technology, Rio Tinto; Sarah Coleman. CEO at idoba; Clytie Dangar. Global Head of Partnerships, IMDEX. Board Director, Austmine; Flavia Xavier Program Director – Technology Development, South32; Katie Hulmes, General; Manager of Transformation and Readiness, OZ Minerals; Mike Lomman, GM, Supply Chain & Remote Operations, Roy Hill; Graeme Stanway, Founder and CEO, Slate Advisory & State of Play; and Adrian Beer, CEO, METS Ignited.
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Connecting Australia to space with laser communications
By Dr David Gozzard, Forrest Fellow, International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research and the International Space Centre
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adio communications technology cannot meet the data transmission demands of future satellites and space missions. Laser communications hold the key to overcoming this data transfer bottleneck.
Laser Communications from Spacecraft Our modern world relies on satellites and other spacecraft for communications, weather observations, crop monitoring, mapping, bushfire and disaster response, and a huge range of other applications. Thanks to ever improving cameras and sensors, newer generations of satellites are generating increasing amounts of data and, as the cost of building and launching satellites comes down, we are launching more of them. Radio communications technology does not have enough bandwidth (the amount of data that can be transmitted per second) to get all of that data down to the ground. All communication systems are fundamentally limited in their bandwidth by the frequency they are transmitting at. Higher frequencies can carry more data per second and so have greater bandwidth. This is the main advantage of newer 5G mobile phone technology, which is currently being rolled out across the country, over older, lower-frequency 4G. Laser communications could solve this data bottleneck. The much higher frequencies of lasers mean they have much greater bandwidths, which is why the internet uses laser transmitted through fibre optics cables to haul vast amounts of data across continents. The lasers that will be used for communications
INTERNATIONAL AUSTRALIA IN SPACE
with satellites operate at frequencies in the hundreds of terahertz (hundreds of trillions of hertz), meaning a satellite equipped with a laser transmitter will be able downlink its data to Earth at rates tens of thousands of times faster than it could with a radio transmitter. Laser communications will be critical to humanity’s sustainable use of space technology Another advantage of laser communications is that the laser beam is a lot narrower than the beam from a radio transmitter. Even after travelling thousands of kilometres from space, the laser beam will only be a few tens of metres across at the ground. This means that, unlike radio communications, satellites in the same vicinity could transmit on the same frequency without interfering with each other, and the communications are much more secure, because it makes it extremely difficult for an eavesdropper to intercept the transmission. It also means that laser transmitters can be smaller and more energy efficient than radio transmitters, making the satellite that carries them smaller and cheaper. However, to achieve internet-like data rates from satellites, we need to overcome atmospheric turbulence.
Atmospheric Turbulence Pockets of air with slightly different temperature and density have different refractive indices, which means they deflect and distort the passing laser beam. At the receiver on the ground, the laser from the satellite twinkles like a star. This means that the laser beam is winking
Australia's share of the global space economy market grew by 30 per cent from 2019 to 2020 and we hope that, with the AOGSN, we will see this trend continue. The aim of the AOGSN is to make Australia the southern hemisphere hub for advanced laser communications from Earth orbit and deep space. in and out, and we lose data. This severely reduces the bandwidths and data rates that can be achieved with laser communications. Developing systems that are resistant to, or able to suppress, atmospheric turbulence is crucial to achieving high-speed satellite laser communications. There are a variety of ways to overcome or suppress atmospheric turbulence, including methods that receive the distorted laser beam and recombine it into to one strong signal either optically or electronically. One of the leading techniques is to use adaptive optics technology modified from astronomy. Twinkling stars are bad for astronomy, because atmospheric turbulence blurs the images of distant galaxies and nebulae they are trying to study. Large astronomical telescopes correct for atmospheric turbulence by detecting the distortion of the star light and physically deforming a mirror within cont next page >>
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the telescope to compensate, creating a clearer image. The same technique applied to telescopes used as laser receivers will allow laser communications to achieve a reliable link through the turbulent atmosphere.
The Western Australian Optical Ground Station In the Astrophotonics research group at the University of Western Australia (UWA), we are working to translate adaptive optics and other astronomy technologies to enable reliable space-to-ground laser links, and achieve high-speed laser communications to spacecraft around Earth, the Moon, and beyond. We have been testing these technologies using smallscale optical terminals, and have achieved world-record stability of a high-precision laser signal bounced between buildings. (Because the atmosphere quickly gets thinner with increasing altitude, a horizontal link near the ground of only a few kilometres has the same amount of turbulence as a link all the way from the ground to space.) We are now working on demonstrating stable laser and data links to moving airborne targets, which is much harder than targeting a building that does not move. In August 2021, we installed a 0.7 m robotic telescope on the roof of the UWA physics building. This telescope is the core of the Western Australian Optical Ground Station (WAOGS), the first laser communications ground station in the southern hemisphere. Since then, we have been working hard to commission the WAOGS, which involves programming it to track satellites by first slewing to their predicted orbital position, homing in on them using computer vision, and then locking onto the narrow laser beam using adaptive optics. Currently, we are testing the complete integration and effectiveness of the systems by establishing robust laser links to a drone making simulated satellite passes, and measuring the stability and data transfer performance of the link. Following these tests, we aim to receive our first transmissions from a laser-equipped satellite in low Earth orbit early next year.
An Australian Optical Ground Station Network The WAOGS is the first of a larger Australasian Optical Ground Station Network (AOGSN), which will eventually comprise four ground station in Western Australia, South Australia, the ACT, and New Zealand. The stations will work together to “handover” a satellite from one to another as it passes over Australia, increasing the opportunity to downlink valuable data. Having multiple ground stations also provides resilience against adverse weather. Thanks to Australasia’s generally clear skies, if one or more of the stations are obscured by cloud, the AOGSN will still be able to establish a link to a satellite more than 90% of the time. The AOGSN will be used to test and develop advanced laser communications, and promises to benefit telecommunications in all areas of Australia, for example, by providing higher bandwidths to regional and remote areas, and providing greater reliability for disaster and emergency response.
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Benefits to Science and Industry Australia has a long history of supporting spacecraft communications. During the 1960s, ground stations at Carnarvon and Honeysuckle Creek, and the Parkes radio telescope in NSW, tracked and received images and data from satellites and crewed space missions. Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk during the Apollo 11 mission was famously received and relayed around the world by Honeysuckle Creek and Parkes. Today, Australia hosts and operates deep space tracking stations for NASA in Tidbinbilla, and ESA in New Norcia, as well as other spacecraft communication and tracking stations for public and private organisations. Australia's share of the global space economy market grew by 30 per cent from 2019 to 2020 and we hope that, with the AOGSN, we will see this trend continue. The aim of the AOGSN is to make Australia the southern hemisphere hub for advanced laser communications from Earth orbit and deep space. Robust and stable laser links to spacecraft also have a wide range of benefits beyond communications, including fundamental and applied science. The most precise measurements, in any field of science, are currently provided by atomic clocks, which use ultrastable frequencies of light to make ultra-precise timing measurements. Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, which explains gravity, black holes, and the evolution of the universe shows that spacetime (and, therefore, the time counted by an atomic clock) is affected by gravity. A clock ticks more slowly on the ground than it does in space, where Earth’s gravitational field is weaker. Using stable laser links to compare atomic clocks in space against atomic clocks on the ground will allow us to measure this time dilation with unparalleled precision, which will help physicists to refine the Theory, and build a better understanding of our universe. Because the time measured by these clocks is affected by gravity, it means that, via these stable laser links, we can use them to make very precise measurements of the gravity of the Earth below. The Earth’s gravitational field is not uniform, and changes due to movements such as the flow of water and ice around the planet. Precise measurements of the Earth’s gravity field will be enormously beneficial to geodesy and geoscience, and the sustainable use of resources. These measurements, and the ability to accurately compare atomic clocks over vast distances will also benefit positioning, navigation and timing. GPS satellites use an older generation of less precise atomic clocks. As newer generations, compared using stable laser links, come online, the improved navigation and timing accuracy these systems would offer will benefit a huge range of industries, from robotics to finance. Small steps in laser communications technology will lead to giant leaps in humanity’s use and exploration of space. With the WAOGS, the AOGSN, and the advanced laser systems being developed and tested with these facilities, Australia will be at the forefront of spacecraft communications and support for a long time to come.
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Making oxygen from the Martian atmosphere An experiment on a Mars rover paves the way for human visitors
By Lisa Harvey, Editor at Mathworks
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or the NASA Perseverance rover, setting down on Mars after a dramatic descent involved a heat shield, a parachute, and a rocket-powered “sky crane” that lowered the rover on cables to the surface. One of the rover’s primary missions is to search for signs of previous life on the red planet. It also has a less-known mission: to test machinery that could support human life there. A journey to Mars would require a lot of oxygen— some of it for the astronauts to breathe, but the majority as a liquid to burn fuel for the return trip. For a crew of four, 25 metric tons (55,000 pounds) would be required. Sending that mass from Earth would cost billions of dollars and involve complicated logistics, so NASA plans on in situ resource utilisation—using what they find on-site. Mining ice from the poles to retrieve oxygen would be an arduous process. Instead, they hope to extract it from the atmosphere by separating oxygen atoms from carbon dioxide, which makes up 95% of the atmosphere. Sitting in the belly of Perseverance is a gold-coated box about the size of a car battery: the Mars Oxygen In-Situ
Resource Utilisation Experiment, or MOXIE. Apart from the acronym, this device, designed at MIT, takes its name from moxie, meaning a courageous spirit—a word derived from the carbonated drink Moxie, invented in Massachusetts. As a miniature version of what’s to come for a human mission, it will run at least 10 times, testing the limits of its capabilities. “We’re looking to expedite the path that will send humans to Mars,” says Dr. Michael Hecht, who heads the project at MIT. “We’re looking to make that happen sooner, and with less risk, and with less cost.” The device contains two main parts: a gas compressor and the Solid OXide Electrolyzer (SOXE), which splits CO2 using heat and electricity. Surrounding these components are pipes, valves, filters, sensors, a power supply, and a small computer. An engineering model “twin” of MOXIE at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California is used for testing before mission control sends commands to the distant MOXIE. Another twin exists solely in software, which Hecht’s MIT team runs before trying the commands on the engineering model.
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“If we break something on Mars, you can’t send anybody to go fix it, and you’re done,” says Eric Hinterman, a doctoral student in the AeroAstro department, the lab of Jeffrey Hoffman, the project’s deputy lead and a former astronaut. Hinterman designed the software simulation. “So, we have a bunch of steps so that we’re pretty confident, and the computer model, the digital twin, is one of those key steps.”
Double-Checking “MATLAB changed my professional life when it came out,” Hecht says. “It was like a pocket calculator, enabling you to worry about other things instead of calculating things and graphing them by hand.” In the 1980s, if he found an issue, he would stop by the MathWorks office in Natick, Massachusetts. Around 1990 he began writing MATLAB® components himself. MATLAB was a natural fit for the MOXIE project. Piyush Khopkar, a software engineer at MathWorks who’s on the MOXIE technical staff and operations
team, said the decision to use Simulink®, the graphical environment for modelling and simulation, was easy. Simulink connects to MATLAB, which includes a library of mathematical and application-specific functions so “you don’t need to reinvent the wheel.” The MOXIE Simulink model was handed down to Hinterman from former students, but he stripped it and rewrote it. It models electrical circuits, chemistry, fluid dynamics, controls, and sensors. “I was forced to learn a lot about electrochemistry,” he says, “and that’s been kind of fun.” He models three control loops. The first maintains a set temperature in SOXE, accounting for how much heat the device generates—electrolysis happens at about 800 degrees Celsius (1,470 degrees Fahrenheit)—and how much escapes. The second controls the electrical voltage to keep the current constant. The third determines internal pressure by adjusting how fast the compressor blades spin. The loops also need to model fault detection and shut down a run when things go awry. cont next page >>
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The model is “pretty complex,” Hinterman says. Tracking down errors isn’t easy, although the software helps. “Sometimes it’s a nested issue that takes quite a bit of time to debug.” Further, JPL would sometimes swap out components, and he’d have to adjust his model. “So just keeping up with the progress on the physical MOXIE was probably one of the biggest challenges.” When the simulation doesn’t line up with the engineering model, “it’s something different every time,” Hinterman says. “Like the temperature doesn’t perfectly align. And then I might find out that there was a crack in the insulation.” In development, when the model didn’t match reality, Hinterman would talk to JPL or pore over the data and change the formulas or constants. Now that the model has proven itself on Earth, he has to worry about how the trip to Mars may have changed the real MOXIE. Launch and reentry may have shaken things up, or the gravity difference, dust, and cold could cause unexpected changes. He says he’s prepared to add “Mars factors” to the model to mimic reality on the red planet. “I’ve had quite a bit of experience building things, and they rarely turn out exactly how you design them,” says Hinterman. Comparing the simulation with the engineering model, “it surprised me how close the model has come to predicting what happens.” MATLAB provides Simulink with data, including the sizes of pieces of hardware, atmospheric conditions, chemical constants, control system setpoints like the desired SOXE temperature, and safety limits. Simulink then sends simulation outputs—sensor readings—back to MATLAB for analysis. MATLAB also receives data from the real MOXIE on Mars. But the real and virtual MOXIEs don’t tell you something as simple as how much oxygen they produce or the ratio of carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide. Instead, MATLAB calculates those values from temperature, pressure, and voltage sensor data. It also estimates more theoretical values like MOXIE’s limits and danger points, Hecht says. “There’s a thousand different little things that need to be calculated.” To help MOXIE operators run the simulation and interpret the data, Khopkar designed user interfaces (UIs). One has virtual sliders that control Martian parameters, such as atmospheric conditions, and MOXIE parameters, such as current and temperature. Another UI displays the data from either the simulation or the actual experiment on Mars. Khopkar built them with a MATLAB environment called App Designer. As part of the operations team, he also gets to use these UIs.
Perfect Landing Soon after Perseverance landed on Mars, MOXIE conducted a health check. It will make at least 10 runs lasting about an hour each, once every couple of months. They will get progressively more challenging, operating in different atmospheric conditions and seasons and at various times of day, then attempting different modes and operating conditions. On April 20, 2021, MOXIE made its first run. MOXIE
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successfully generated 6 grams of oxygen per hour, well on its way toward the goal of 10 grams an hour. “It’s been a pretty wild ride. We’re all giddy. Then it’s time to settle down to the hard work of answering emails and talking to the media, but I want to look at data,” said Hecht at the time. MOXIE uses a few pieces of well-known technology, but much of it is new territory. “It did not start with anywhere near the heritage that most things going to Mars have.” “The results surprised us only in the sense of how perfect it is,” Hecht says. “Things aren’t supposed to work that perfectly. An instrument was produced on the ground with behaviour that met all the requirements applied to it, and it got all the way to Mars, and it made oxygen. And that’s the part where you just hold your breath.” He continued, “When we ran it on Tuesday, it had been two years since we had run it last and made oxygen. When you take your bicycle out of the closet after two years, you expect to have to oil up the chain and unseize a couple of bearings and replace the tires because they’re probably old and cracked. We packaged MOXIE in the rover, turned it upside down, put it through thermal cycles, and launched it. It sat in a vacuum and cruised for months. We plunked it down on Mars, with violent explosions as things deployed. Then we waited. When we ran it under these very harsh circumstances, it was as if none of that had happened.”
Bigger and Better The work is far from done. “In general, the lack of smartness of the control system is the biggest challenge,” Hecht says. He’d like to make it more autonomous, perhaps by uploading new software from Earth. That will require testing in simulation first. Hinterman is working on MOXIE’s successor, which NASA would deploy before sending humans to Mars. It will spend 14 months generating tons of oxygen. In some ways, that machine will face bigger challenges, and in other ways, smaller ones. It needs to run longer and produce more oxygen, but it will operate at a lower altitude with a smarter computer, better filtering, better sensors, and self-cleaning capabilities. Those are new elements Hinterman will need to simulate. One big difference: the future machine will liquefy, store, and transfer the oxygen it makes, rather than release it into the Martian atmosphere. “I spent the past two months specifically modelling the liquefaction system,” he says. Hinterman is using MATLAB optimisation algorithms to help design the hardware layout. He can tell the software to minimise the mass, and it will try different pumps or compressors, or a suite of operating conditions. “The real value is that it can see how all these different variables interplay with each other,” he says. “So, if you choose a cryogenic pump instead of a mechanical pump, maybe a lower temperature is better. Maybe a higher temperature is better for some reason, and it can see all those interactions, whereas humans have a tough time doing that.” For the moment, Hecht isn’t putting too much thought into the next project. “I’m focused on running this one right now.”
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THE GROWING RANSOMWARE THREAT
Ransomware attacks can be devastating - regardless of whether a victim decides to pay. Business disruption, reputational harm, time lost while recovering from the incident, and regulatory/compliance ramifications can lead to higher costs and operational harm over the long term. Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 Security Consulting and Threat Intelligence teams analyzed incident response cases we handled in combination with larger insights on the ransomware threat landscape, such as groups’ activity on the Dark Web, to identify patterns and insights that could help organizations bolster their defenses against ransomware.
Costs Continue to Rise
As new ransomware groups join the fray, past players re-emerge and existing ransomware operators continue to attack – and push their victims to pay more.
Evolving Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs)
Cybercriminals are constantly updating their tools and attack methods, while finding ways to optimize their business models to maximize profits. Inreased use of Zero-Day Vulnerabilities helps threat actors take victims by surprise
Adoption of proliﬁc ransomware as a service (RaaS) business model lowers the technical bar for attacks and opens the door
Multiple Extortion Techniques pressure victims to pay more and faster
Ransomware Groups are More Active than Ever
As new adversaries emerge, established players keep optimizing malware and building out capabilities to affect more types of systems, widening the scope of possible victims in the process. Conti Emerged in 2020, became most active group in 2021
REvil/Sodinokibi Second most active ransomware group during 2021
BlackCat Surfaced in 2021. Its leak-site quickly jumped to seventh most active
A Significant Global Problem
No region or industry is immune to ransomware attacks, and at least one victim from 90 different countries appeared on ransomware group’s leak sites in 2021. of ransomware victims
60% located in the Americas 31%
of ransomware victims in EMEA
How to Increase Your Ransomware Resilience
As ransomware threats grow and evolve, and groups continue to hone their tactics, it’s more important than ever to bolster your defenses and improve your ransomware resilience. Unit 42 recommends the following steps: 1. Stay up-to-date on the evolving landscape
6. Identify and shut down access to your exposed assets
2. Understand the business impact of losing critical data
7. Prevent known and unknown threats
3. Assess your internal and external readiness
8. Automate where possible
4. Review and test your incident response plan
9. Secure cloud workloads
5. Implement Zero Trust approach to secure your organization
10. Reduce response time with incident response retainers
Get the 2022 Unit 42 Ransomware Threat Report for a deeper dive of the ransomware threat landscape, and gain actionable insights from security experts to help address your ransomware vulnerability.
Download the report
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