Aussie space companies share in $3m for Moon to Mars mission


Denham Sadler
National Affairs Editor

Four Australian space companies have shared in $3 million in federal government grants as part of the Moon to Mars initiative.

As part of the Supply Chain Capability Improvement program, which aims to grow local space manufacturing capability and supply chains and assist Australian companies to participate in the US government’s public-private Moon to Mars space exploration program, more than $5 million in total has been distributed across rolling in funding rounds.

Round 3 of the program, announced on Wednesday by acting industry minister Angus Taylor, has seen four companies sharing in $3 million in grants for various space manufacturing programs.

The Gilmour Space Technologies team

The cash injection would strengthen Australia’s space manufacturing base and build the economy, Mr Taylor said.

“The space sector is one of our six National Manufacturing Priorities and these grants directly contribute to building the skills and capabilities of Australian space businesses so they can scale up their operations and become competitive in global markets,” he said.

“The grants also provide a tangible opportunity for Australian businesses to support the transformation of our space industry and contribute to projects that will support NASA’s Moon to Mars program.”

Queensland tech company Gilmour Space Technologies has landed the largest ground of the round, with $1 million in funding going towards its manufacturing capability to produce qualified composite overwrapped pressure vessels that can hold fluids under pressure for use in the aerospace industry.

South Australian space firm Inovor Technologies has received a $750,000 grant to deliver rapid and cost-competitive satellite manufacturing capabilities, while Queensland firm Black Sky Aerospace landed just under $700,000 to expand production of its Responsive Common Use Booster propellant for commercial use.

Queensland space firm Crystalaid Manufacture has received its second grant under the program, with just under $550,00 going towards its high-tech manufacturing capability to produce electronic components for space use. The company previously won a grant under the same program worth more than $450,000.

Australia Space Agency head Enrico Palermo pointed to the opportunities on offer for Australia at the intersection of space and manufacturing.

“Space and manufacturing go hand-in-hand and these projects are leveraging that relationship to drive economic growth and create jobs here in Australia,” Mr Palermo said.

“With this support, these Australian companies will be able to expand their capability and tap into new supply chains around the world – which adds up to opportunities here at home.”

The federal government announced $150 million in funding in late 2020 to assist Australian companies in taking part in the US government’s Moon to Mars mission and NASA’s Artemis lunar program, which aims to return astronauts to the moon by 2024.

As part of this funding, $25.7 million in grants over five years are available to Australian companies looking to participate in the supply chain for these missions.

The grants can provide for up to 75 per cent of a project’s expenditure and are available on a rolling basis until mid-2023.

The grants opened in August 2020, with the first round dished out in March. As part of this round, two NSW companies shared in $1.1 million in funding.

Space is one of the government’s six priority areas for its Modern Manufacturing Initiative, and $14 million in grants were awarded in July to companies operating in the sector.

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