National Space Qualification Network to boost testing capability

National Space Qualification Network

The federal government has provided the Australian National University (ANU) with a $2.5 million grant to establish a National Space Qualification Network (NSQN), offering end-to-end payload testing services to manufacturers. 

The funding will mean the ANU and its space research partners can ensure that Australian-made satellites and other sensitive electronic equipment operates correctly in space. 

Creating an end-to-end testing capability will save space manufacturers both time and money, as they will no longer have to send sensitive equipment offshore to ensure it meets Australian and international standards, minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter said. 

“Australia already has a range of sophisticated testing facilities that can simulate the vacuum, extreme temperatures, vibrations and G-forces encountered during space missions that can cause electronic equipment to fail or malfunction,” Porter said. 

“But an audit conducted last year by the Australian Space Agency identified gaps in our testing network, including the lack of a specialist ionising radiation testing facility. 

“The funding provided through this grant will enable us to establish this capability within Australia, making it easier and cheaper for local businesses to qualify their products for sale into global and domestic supply chains,” he said. 

The funding will also establish Australia’s first dedicated space-focused “pyroshock” testing capability at the ANU’s Mount Stromlo space testing centre. Pyroshock testing measures the impact that the explosive forces generated during stage separation of rockets can have on payloads.  

Having identified the space sector as one of six National Manufacturing Priority areas (NMPs), the federal government has committed over $700M to support the sector’s growth. The aim is to triple its size to more than $12B by 2030. 

“That growth will help to generate an additional 20,000 highly-skilled and high-paid jobs within the space sector and allied manufacturing industries, providing a bright future for young Australians looking for rewarding careers at the forefront of scientific research,” Porter said. 

Organisations partnering with the ANU to form the National Space Qualification Network include the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), Steritech, University of Wollongong, Saber Astronautics and Nova Systems. 

The National Space Qualification Network will bring a more commercial focus to space qualification, according to Australian Space Agency head Enrico Palermo. 

“While the network will be spread across six states and territories, it will have a single point of entry for businesses, ensuring a simple and seamless experience and a strong commercial focus,” Palermo said. 

“By creating this service, we also believe that we can make Australia a highly desirable testing destination for overseas space manufacturers, generating more money for research and helping to boost our domestic economy.” 

The $2.5M grant was provided through the Space Payload Qualification Facilities component of the Australian Space Agency’s $19.5M Space Infrastructure Fund. This fund addresses gaps in Australia’s space infrastructure to increase the nation’s space capability. 

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