The Defence Strategic Review 2023 makes it clear that space capabilities will play an increasingly important role in protecting Australia’s national interests.
The South Australian space industry’s expanding capabilities can better prepare the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to protect our sovereign interests.
These capabilities support defence activities in contested environments, border protection and intelligence gathering.
Everyday life, including our mobile communications, banking and navigation systems, and many more daily activities are reliant on satellites. So, it’s critical Australia is resilient to attempts to disrupt space infrastructure.
South Australia’s commitment to growing the local industry and building on the state’s strong history of space activity, is accelerating development of new technologies.
The state is already home to more than 100 space-related organisations, including the Australian Space Agency, Australian Space Discovery Centre, Mission Control Centre, Joint Commercial Operations (JCO) Space Command Cell, Smart Sat CRC, the Bureau of Meteorology, the No. 1 Space Surveillance Unit (1SSU) and a large concentration of the Defence, Science and Technology Group.
Industry leaders say it’s this concentration of cutting-edge industry innovation, working collaboratively with the research sector and government organisations, that’s advancing new space capabilities.
QuantX Labs accelerates space technologies for defence
World-leaders in high-precision timing and quantum sensor technologies, QuantX Labs, is one of many companies seizing opportunities to collaborate in South Australia, recently expanding with the opening of a new facility.
Their RavensNest facility is a capability accelerator, designed to super-charge South Australia’s defence innovation ecosystem by allowing defence companies to work hand-in-glove with defence researchers, university researchers and the ADF.
QuantX Labs ED and GM, Associate Professor Martin O’Connor said the environment had been designed to fast-track transformative technologies from research through to sovereign capability, answering the most urgent problems for Defence.
“Our company’s PNT technology (an optical atomic clock) has the ability to provide data to war-fighters across the globe, where GPS may be unreliable or unavailable,” he said.
The company’s KAIROS Mission will see a next-generation optical atomic clock launched into space, delivering high value capability and providing new navigation and timing services from space.
“South Australia’s leadership in quantum technologies, provides an important opportunity for us to highlight a key strength we bring to the AUKUS partnership,” Associate Professor O’Connor said.
Saber Astronautics leads space domain awareness
Saber Astronautics operates the Responsive Space Operations Centre (RSOC), a space mission control centre, at Lot Fourteen in Adelaide.
The RSOC combines space domain awareness, command and control and space weather into a single operational solution. It is part of a growing program providing satellite services for the commercial space sector.
Saber Astronautics CEO, Dr Jason Held said the RSOC had been at the centre of thought leadership for Space Domain Awareness (SDA) for the last three years, as the Pacific Cell leader for unclassified space wargames run by the US Space Force.
“The RSOC experimented with new techniques in traditional SDA as well as cooperative approaches which mixed civil space traffic and Defence operations, and how they would work together in the future,” Dr Held said.
“As part of our role, we ensured Australian sensors, algorithms, companies, and research teams got an equal chance to participate alongside US Department of Defence preferred suppliers – many of whom now have export opportunities because of the program.”
Silentium Defence securing international opportunities
Adelaide-based start-up and passive radar specialist, Silentium Defence, is another leading-edge space innovator, securing local and international opportunities to supply products and services.
The company’s sensors will be supplied for Australia’s Joint Air Battle Management System (JABMS) and it has also announced its first US sales of the MAVERICK M8 passive radar system, and establishment of a US entity.
Silentium Defence CEO Dr James Palmer, said, “To see uniquely Australian developed capability in the hands of US customers is proof we can build true sovereign advantage locally, for global export and application.”
Silentium’s MAVERICK S-series meanwhile delivers an ultra-wide-field-of-view allowing constant surveillance of Low Earth Orbit, in what the company calls ‘a new generation of space surveillance sensors’.
Learn more at sasic.sa.gov.au