The NSW Government has announced $1.4m in funding to establish the NSW Space Research Network, to be co-hosted by The University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney and located at Tech Central.

Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres said the new Network builds on the release of the NSW Space Industry Development Strategy.

“This investment will bring together universities, industry and government to tackle space challenges, translate vital research into commercial space products, attract investment, upskill graduates and drive growth in high-tech jobs,” said Ayres. “The Network will build on NSW’s cutting-edge space R&D to support NSW enterprise to compete both locally and globally by leveraging significant domestic and international funding opportunities.”

With NSW already home to more than a third of Australia’s space start-ups, Ayres said the state boasts impressive credentials in the space sector and well-established space R&D infrastructure through its world-class universities and centres of excellence.

“NSW offers an extensive network of ground stations including CSIRO’s Australian Telescope National Facility installations at Narrabri, Coonabarabran and Parkes, the Optus Earth Station in Sydney and the Commonwealth Government’s defence satellite station in Wagga Wagga,” Ayres added.

The Network’s co-director, Professor Stefan Williams of The University of Sydney, commented: “The Network will position NSW enterprise to compete in the space sector by connecting key stakeholders to undertake R&D activities with a focus on translation and impact.”

The University of Sydney is currently involved with several innovative projects in the $150m Moon to Mars Demonstrator Feasibility Initiative, in collaboration with NASA, to support Australian businesses to enter the global supply chains for the ambitious NASA program to return to the Moon by 2024, and to land humans on Mars. These projects include research on drilling, inference and navigation for geological operations, and working with Abyss Solutions to develop robotics for asset inspection and repairs for spaceborne operations. The University also leads an ARC Industry Transformation Centre focused on developing next-generation satellite technologies and is a partner in the SmartSat CRC.

Professor Robert Fitch of UTS, fellow co-director of the Network, said the new group will help with common challenges encountered by industry, government and research organisations when trying to facilitate growth along the entire innovation value chain, from research collaboration to workforce and facilities, through to securing exports and investment.

“The new network will support collaboration between government and industry to deliver space-focused research outcomes and research translation for NSW, Australia and the world,” Professor Fitch said.

UTS leads space-related research activity in areas ranging from advanced antenna systems for satellite communications to critical supporting technologies such as advanced manufacturing for space systems. UTS also partners with leading space SMEs, such as Space Machines, to support the growth of the space industry locally by providing access to its state-of-the-art research and development facilities, including the UTS Tech Lab in Botany.

The NSW Space Research Network will also leverage other space-related activities in the precinct, including the NSW Node of the SmartSat CRC and the new National Space Industry Hub.