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To support a globally recognised Australian space sector with the capability, capacity and expertise to locally design, develop, manufacture and deploy specialised products, equipment, systems and services for exporting to international markets and to support national and international space missions.

The Australian space sector will have the manufacturing expertise and capacity to design, develop, produce, and sustain critical elements of Australia’s space capabilities. This includes designing, building, and launching satellites to space. The sector’s manufacturing capability will be globally competitive, create jobs, and create products that can enable services with export potential. Global markets, international partnerships and supply chains are vital in sustaining the domestic space industry.

The focus to realise this vision includes:

  • achieving scale through investments and a growing workforce which allow space manufacturers to lift their manufacturing capabilities, including designing, building, qualifying, launching, and operating small satellites in space
  • driving collaboration across the manufacturing ecosystem by helping Australian businesses demonstrate their space-qualified products, facilitating business-to-business relationships, and communicating clear standards
  • identifying new opportunities for space manufacturers to access domestic and global supply chains.

Growth opportunities

Australia’s space manufacturing sector is significant and growing. Through detailed analysis, public consultation, drawing on industry expert’s views, and reports, the following opportunities have been identified for the Australian space manufacturing industry to scale over the next decade:

  • manufacturing products that are launched into space, such as launch vehicles, nano and small satellites, payloads, robotics and automation systems and their test qualification models
  • manufacturing space components, such as sensors, critical subsystems, communications arrays, and position, navigation and timing tools
  • manufacturing and production of associated products and infrastructure, such as launch facilities, leapfrog R&D, optical wireless communication technologies and key ground segment subsystems.

These include the tools and services that enable industry to design, make and test these outputs efficiently such as data-driven systems engineering, quality assurance services, digital twins and cyber security capabilities.

In order for space manufacturers to sell products and components for use in space, particularly in the global market, they need to demonstrate space heritage. Space heritage is proof that those products are qualified for use in space. This is typically measured by industry through Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs), a method for assessing technology maturity during the project’s acquisition phase.[1] The TRL scale, which runs from 1–9 (with 9 being the highest), provides a universal measure for discussion across the global space sector.

TRL explainer - view larger image

An explainer of Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) in space manufacturing

  • TRL 1: Basic principles observed and reported
  • TRL 2: Technology concept formulated
  • TRL 3: Analytical and experimental critical function and/or proof-of-concept
  • TRL 4: Component validation in laboratory environment
  • TRL 5: Component validation in relevant environment
  • TRL 6: System or subsystem prototype demonstration in relevant environment
  • TRL 7: System prototype demonstration in a space environment (ground segment demonstration occurs in relevant environment, in the loop with the relevant space segment)
  • TRL 8: Actual system completed and ‘flight qualified’ through test and demonstration
  • TRL 9: Actual system ‘flight proven’ through successful mission operations

Areas of investment focus are from TRL 4 to TRL 8. Demonstrated space heritage spans TRL 7 to 9.

Technology development (spans TRL 3 to TRL 5) and includes:

  • Design of system and subsystems
  • Manufacture of prototype components, subsystems, and proof-of-concept systems
  • Validation of prototypes in lab tests and qualification facilities.

Technology demonstration (spans TRL 4 to TRL 7) and includes:

  • Validation of prototype components in relevant environments (e.g. vibration, extreme temperatures, vacuum, radiation)
  • Continued refinement of manufacturing processes to address test outcomes.

System/subsystem development (spans TRL 5.5 to TRL 8) and includes:

  • Manufacture and integration of components and subsystems as close to the actual product as possible for testing in a space environment
  • System-level tests in relevant environment to verify whether a component or subsystem performs successfully.

System test, launch and operations (spans TRL 6.5 to TRL 9) and includes:

  • Actual system is tested successfully in space
  • Actual system is successfully launched to space and successfully operational in the space environment.

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[8] USA National Aeronautical and Space Administration (2012) Technology Readiness Level

Funding available

The Modern Manufacturing Initiative is now open for space manufacturing projects that meet eligibility under its Translation and Integration streams.

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