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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 1 August 2018) . . Page.. 2542 ..

I was pleased to recently represent the Chief Minister at an Australian Youth Aerospace Association conference right here at UNSW Canberra. The AYAA conference had some 400 attendees, most from interstate, over several days, learning about career opportunities in Canberra, particularly at UNSW Canberra.

UNSW Canberra Space is a world-class team of 40 academic and professional staff, with facilities to enable end-to-end space mission capability. The team play a leading role in shaping Australia’s direction and capabilities in space. We heard from the director, Russell Boyce, about the UNSW Canberra Space vision and strategic direction: to be the leading institution in space research, education and thinking in Australia and beyond, providing strategic vision and leadership underpinned by world-class research and education.

UNSW Canberra is leading innovative Australian research in space, with a capability to routinely conceptualise, develop and fly affordable, responsible in-orbit missions. These missions enable the development of innovative new technologies for spacecraft, including distributed networked experiments and sensors across formations, swarms and assemblies of cubesats.

UNSW Canberra Space plays a leading a role in the evolving conversation and thinking about space. The nation is currently experiencing a space awakening. UNSW Canberra’s investment in space occurs at a time at which Australia’s direction in space is beginning is to crystallise, capabilities are beginning to emerge and government policy is taking shape. UNSW Canberra Space builds on the credibility of world-class research and education, offering strategic vision and thought leadership for the Australian space community. UNSW Canberra Space advises that space systems are complex. The challenge for professionals involved in defining, acquiring, operating and/or utilising space systems is to step away from ongoing demands and duties and obtain the relevant upskilling. We have heard that UNSW Canberra offers two specialised masters programs available for both distance education and intensive delivery modes.

We heard from Director Boyce details on their work with Skykraft. Skykraft have been working on a low payload delivery of cubesats built right here in Canberra, as mentioned earlier. Skykraft will soon be testing sat-to-sat direct communications involving machine learning, which in my understanding is a first in the space industry worldwide. We also heard about miniature satellite cubesat research involving a broadening of the Jindalee over-the-horizon radar with UNSW’s first launch of Buccaneer from the Vandenberg air force base in California. Buccaneer is around the size of a shoebox and will help to calibrate the Jindalee OTHR as well as provide crucial data on predicting the orbits of space objects, including space junk. Professor Boyce advised:

… to avoid collisions in space is essential if we are to safeguard the space based technologies upon which society depends.

He also said that Buccaneer is one of five funded spacecraft, with a further three in development, with a spend of some $10 million in investment.

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