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Back in 2019, the Australian Space Agency (ASA) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the UAE Space Agency, facilitating closer international partnerships in the space industry sectors. Now as both countries continue to forge ahead in their rapidly growing space industries, Sydney, capital city of the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW), believes the UAE could provide some of the best opportunities for its Sydney-based space start-ups to land new investment.

Sydney has the broadest and strongest space capability in Australia

In 2018 the Australian Government launched the Australian Space Agency with the goal of tripling the national space economy from $3 billion (Dh11 billion) to $9 billion in 2030 and developing 12,000 additional highly skilled jobs.

With the largest portion of the Australian space industry based in New South Wales, the Government’s Minister for Investment, Trade and Industry, Stuart Ayres said that since the launch of the Australian Space Agency, the state of NSW has become the country's leader in space innovation and entrepreneurship.

“With continued investment into domestic research and development, including Mars exploration, the UAE is poised to become a powerhouse within the space sector, and we know there’s a real opportunity for our Sydney-based companies to be part of this growth.

“Sydney has the broadest and strongest space capability in Australia boasting capability across every sector of the space industry – there’s simply no better place to develop and commercialise space technology than the city of Sydney and we see the International Astronautical Congress held during Expo 2020 Dubai providing us the global platform to showcase that strength.”

At the 2021 International Astronautical Congress, Sydney-based start-ups and space companies have been showcasing innovations across areas of robotics, satellite sub-systems, space medicine and biology.

Satisfying the surging demand for satellite services

As the surging demand for satellites continues, Sydney-based space robotics companies such as Spiral Blue, Sperospace and Saber Astronautics are looking to ride this wave of demand and the UAE could provide them the space to grow.

Sperospace is harnessing the next generation of in-space infrastructure, building modular robotic arms that will service and build satellites in space, with as much ease as a human assembling flat-packed furniture on Earth.

Sydney-based start-ups and space companies are showcasing innovations at the 2021 International Astronautical Congress in Dubai Image Credit: Sperospace

NSW’s Trade and Investment Commissioner (Middle East), Moin Anwar said this type of technology will enable the next generation of satellites and space assets to be reusable and sustainable, extending satellite lifespans and help mitigate the dangers of congested space.

The Australian Space Agency has announced Sperospace as one of the recipients of the Moon to Mars Demonstrator Feasibility grant.

“This will establish Sperospace as a leader of space-based robotics in Australia’s thriving space sector and create off-earth servicing capabilities that are critical to sustain Moon to Mars missions,” said Anwar.

Along with the servicing of satellites and Earth observation, other Sydney-based companies are working towards reducing the barriers to entry into the space sector.

Companies like Sydney-based Saber Astronautics are committed to democratising space access. The company’s signature product is the recently developed Predictive Groundstation Interface (PIGI) — mission control software designed for the modern age. This satellite operating technology can predict a satellite’s performance and display it to an operator, allowing companies to monitor and control many satellites with minimal effort.

“This is an enabler for new space companies seeking to enter the global market, offering a video game-quality interface that allows users to reach any point of the spacecraft or environment, while world-class data mining enables the system to give meaning to the data,” said Anwar.

“This democratisation of space has opened up barriers that previously made it very difficult for small space companies to get a foothold in the market, which is largely based in the US.”

To know more, visit Space Program – Investment NSW