Science News

Australia Opens First National Space Mission Facility

Photo from UNSW

Australia may be late to the space race, but it’s not sitting back. The country opened its first national space mission facility at the University of New South Wales Canberra, with ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr presiding.

Russell Boyce, UNSW Canberra Space director, says that this Australian National Concurrent Design Facility (ANCDF) will complement Australian National University’s testing facilities. It means that Canberra is now capable of developing complete space missions, the UNSW Newsroom reports.

Boyce said,

For the first time, Australia has a facility that will enable spacecraft design engineers and scientists to rapidly design and determine the technical and economic viability of proposed space missions.

He added, “Just yesterday, we announced the successful launch into orbit of our first cube satellite, ‘Buccaneer’, which was developed jointly with scientists from Defence Science Technology (DST). This is the first of many UNSW Canberra missions. The ANCDF at UNSW Canberra will be a national asset here in the ACT that will support the new Australian Space Agency’s activities to grow and mature our domestic space industry.”

The ANCDF is jointly financed by UNSW Canberra and the ACT Government, supported by a partnership with Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, the French space agency that is providing the Australians with software and training.

UNSW Canberra Space is the university’s leading space program and the pioneer in Australia’s space capabilities. There are over 40 space engineers, scientists and doctorate students who have combined experience working for NASA and the European Space Agency working in the facility.

“This is a world-class facility that will play an important role in the growth of jobs across the sector, including researchers, designers, engineers, technicians, software specialists and beyond,” Boyce said.

UNSW Canberra likewise has a $10 million contract with the Royal Australian Air Force to build three spacecrafts and to launch two space missions in the upcoming two years.

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