Australian companies unite to deliver Defence space work

Joseph Brookes
Senior Reporter

Eight leading Australian-owned space and defence companies have formed a new consortium to capitalise on increased funding from the federal government and the need for sovereign space defence capabilities around satellites and situational awareness.

The Australian Defence Industry Space Capability Alliance (ADISCA) was revealed at the Australian Space Forum on Thursday, claiming to be able to collectively respond to Defence’s entire space Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority.

The ADISCA members are DEWC Systems, Gilmour Space Technologies, Inovor Technologies, Neumann Space, Nova Systems, Southern Launch, REDARC Defence Systems, and Space Machines Company.

ADISCA founding members in Adelaide. Image: Supplied

The consortium was unveiled on the same day the federal government announced a $20 million investment in the Australian Space Park, with a further $20 million to come from the South Australian government and $26.1 million from the private sector.

The ADISCA companies have united after signals from the Department of Defence that consortiums will be better equipped to respond to proposals in the next three to four years, according to Gilmour Space Technologies founder and chief executive Adam Gilmour.

“We’ve got a clear message from Defence that in the shorter term, they are going to want to deal with consortiums of Australian small-to-medium to mid-sized corporations rather than just try to find a prime [contractor],” Mr Gilmour told InnovationAus.

The new group is keen to add more members and eventually also tap into global space supply chains with joint bids, but its immediate focus will be on projects that develop Australia’s sovereign space capability.

In September last year space was added as a new Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority, signalling the government’s intention to develop its industrial base, including making the sector eligible for Defence’s SME grant program.

The Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority grants program has funded over 100 opportunities, to the value of approximately $64 million since its inception in 2018, but much more could come after a $7 billion boost to Defence’s space program.

The space industry is also anticipating more work for Defence’s large satellite programs like JP9102 and Def 799.

The space Industrial Capability Priority is currently focused on satellite-based systems, services and capabilities, with Defence wanting to develop local options for communications, space domain awareness, position, navigation and timing, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

ADISCA said it can cover all these areas between its eight members’ launch and space vehicles and payload design and manufacture, in space propulsion and transportation, and launch and mission control services.

Members Gilmour Space Technologies and Southern Launch currently control Australia’s two most promising launch sites.

“ADISCA is a genuine sovereign collaboration in response to the Commonwealth’s call for Australian industry to provide its expertise to further our nation’s interests in space,” ADISCA spokesperson and DEWC Systems chief executive Ian Spencer said.

“We look forward to Defence engaging with our highly skilled Australian consortium to prime upcoming Defence-related space projects.”

The Department of Defence has increasingly prioritised space and will set up a new Space Division this year through a $7 billion funding boost announced in 2020. Space will account for about 3 per cent of total defence investment over the next 10 years.

The federal government this week announced around $85 million in new space funding outside of defence, including a boost for the Australian Space Agency, more launch site infrastructure, and a new satellite manufacturing hub in Adelaide.

The sector is also expecting more funding announcements in the lead up to the election in May.

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