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Saturday, 27 February 2010 02:05

Australia strengthens its venture into space

The Australian Space Research Program announced that it has launched four space-based programs involving Living Space Laboratories, Scramjets, Antarctic Broadband, and Space and Earth Technologies.

On Friday February 26, 2010, Senator Kim Carr, the Minister for Innovation, Industry, Science, and Research, announced awards totaling A$12 million for the first four recipients within the Australian Space Research Program (ASRP).

This announcement comes on the heels of the announcement by the United States and Australia of the building of three new high-tech antenna dishes at Australia's Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex (Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Station).

The iTWire article 'Australia continues teamwork with NASA' discusses the new dishes at Tidbinbilla. In essence, NASA's aging fleet of 40-year-old, 70-meter-wide dishes are being replaced with new 34-meter-wide dishes at Canberra (Australia), Goldstone (California, U.S.), and Madrid (Spain).

These antennas will allow the deep space communications network to work on several different frequency bands for each individual antenna, along with higher-frequency, wider bandwidth signals called Ka band. The new high-tech dishes will also allow its associated electronic equipment to be easier and less costly to operate and maintain.

The Canberra dishes'”with construction beginning on the fiftieth anniversary of U.S. and Australian cooperation in space tracking operations'”are expected to be up and running by 2018.

Paralleling this important announcement at Canberra, is the awarding of A$12 million to the first four recipients of the new ASRP.

Page two continues with the specifics on the first four recipients of the ASRP.

According to the Australian Government article '$12M Awarded to First Recipients of new Space Research Program,' the $12 million awarded in phase one is only about one-third of the total $40 million to be eventually awarded in the program.

And, the space-based ASRP is part of an even larger science-based research, education, and innovation program called Super Science Initiative (SSI), that totals A$1.1 billion.

The article stated, 'Announcing the four successful projects today, Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr praised the consortiums behind them for their smart approach to the program, which encourages applicants to assemble national and international teams with wide skills and experience.'

Kim stated, 'Only this week we saw evidence of the very real benefits that come from investing in world-class space science, with confirmation from NASA that it is building two new dishes at Australia's Tidbinbilla facility, each worth US$45 million.'

He added, 'The projects we are funding under the ASRP will promote new opportunities and new investment in Australian space science and the Australian space industry. Australia can be a serious player in the global space industry if we focus on niche areas that match our special capabilities. That is what these projects do.'

The first four projects awarded under ASRP are highlighted on page three.

The four ASRP approved projects are:

Living Space Laboratories

'¢    Pathways to Space: Empowering the Internet Generation'”''¦ a collaborative, hands-on program enabling year 10-12 students to plan space exploration projects using a living laboratory to simulate realistic scenarios and gain an understanding of space engineering challenges.'


'¢    Scramjet-based Access-to-space Systems'”''¦ taking Australia's world-leading scramjet technology one step closer to possible future use in a fuel-efficient hybrid launch vehicle for transporting payloads into space.'

Antarctic Broadband

'¢    Antarctic Broadband'”''¦ developing satellite-based broadband communications technology for use by the Antarctic community to transfer data; the project will also build expertise in small satellite communications systems that can be applied throughout Australia.'

Space and Earth Technologies

'¢    Platform Technologies for Space, Atmosphere and Climate'”''¦ developing technologies for space research, including tracking and navigation, weather and climate monitoring, and atmospheric modelling.'

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