A project to enable satellite-based broadband communications technology for use in the Antarctic is one of four projects to win the first round of $10 million in funding under the Australian Space Research Program (ASRP).
The program provides $40 million over four years through a competitive, merit-based grants program to support space-related research, education and innovation activities.
The Antarctic Broadband project, proposed by a consortium that includes the Australian National University, received $2.1 million in funding, and consist of activities to build capacity and expertise in the design, implementation and support of small-satellite communications systems in Australia.
The second winner, Pathways to Space: empowering the internet generation, by a consortium that includes the University of Sydney and the University of New South Wales, received just under $1 million. It will use the funding to establish a program at the Powerhouse Museum to encourage Year 10 to 12 students to consider careers in space-related science and engineering.
The third, Scramjet-based access-to-space systems, by a consortium that includes the University of Queensland, University of Adelaide, University of New South Wales and University of Southern Queensland, received $5 million, and provides the first phase of a stepping-stone-based roadmap to develop a scramjet-based access-to-space industry.
Platform Technologies for Space, Atmosphere and Climate, the fourth project by a consortium that includes RMIT University, Curtin University of Technology and the University of New South Wales, won $2,847,160 to help develop advanced platform technologies for in-space tracking and navigation, precise positioning, space weather, atmospheric modelling and climate monitoring.
The ASRP is part of the government’s $1.1 billion Super Science Initiative, which aims to support projects that build on Australia’s research strengths.
The awards follow the announcement that NASA will build two $45 million Beam Wave Guide Antennae at the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex to help track space vehicles.
The two DSS36 antennae are expected to be built by 2016 in the town of Tidbinbilla as part of the Federal Government's $1.1 billion Super Science Initiative.
Australia and the US also celebrated their 50-year relationship in space exploration with the extension of the Agreement on Space Vehicle Tracking and Communications Facilities for two years.