Increased testing of Australian-made satellites before they are sent into space will be carried out in Canberra following a federal government grant.
The Australian National University has been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the Commonwealth to expand testing capabilities at the university's Mount Stromlo facility and campus in Acton.
The multimillion-dollar funding, which will be split over the next two years, will help the university and its space research partner organisations to develop a national space qualification network.
The network will allow for companies to test satellites in space-like conditions on Earth before they are sent into orbit.
Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo said the new grant allowed for the university to expand upon its satellite testing capabilities.
"This builds upon the international reputation that ANU have gained and the grant allows them to build a network to test," he said.
"The grant opens up the possibilities to test satellites, and every day more companies develop and manufacture satellites.
"This allows them full end-to-end, to design, to build and test them in turn."
The $2.5 million in funding will come from the space agency's $19.5 million space infrastructure fund, which was designed to address gaps in the country's capabilities in the industry.
Currently, facilities at the Mount Stromlo observatory are able to simulate radiation levels in space, along with how satellites will cope in zero gravity, as well as the vibrations during missions.
The grant will allow for new testing to be carried out for pyroshock, or the forces that impact upon a satellite when it separates from a rocket in space during its launch.
Federal Science Minister Christian Porter said an audit carried out in 2020 found gaps in the testing network, which the grant would help to address.
"The funding provided through this grant will enable us to establish this capability within Australia, making it easier and cheaper for local businesses to qualify their products for sale into global and domestic supply chains," he said.
Professor Anna Moore, the director of the ANU Institute for Space, said the increased testing would be more important than ever, as more companies entered the space industry in Australia.
"You can't just launch 100 satellites and say 10 per cent are going to work, you need to know they're going to work and be sophisticated and fully tested," she said.
"Part of the investment will allow the Australian space industry to have access to facilities to build more sophisticated satellites, which are also sovereign owned.
"This is going to be a huge catalyst for the industry."
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