The Australian Space Research Programme is designed to channel funds to areas of space science where the country already has expertise, including scramjet propulsion, atmospheric and climate modelling and small satellite communications.

"Australia can be a serious player in the global space industry if we focus on niche areas that match our special capabilities," says innovation minister Kim Carr.

First round funding awarded earlier this year included A$5 million ($4.5 million) to a consortium including the universities of Queensland and Adelaide, Boeing Research and Technology Australia, JAXA, the Italian Aerospace Research Centre and others to develop scramjet-based access-to-space systems.

The University of Queensland, in particular, is at the forefront of scramjet technology development with its HyShot and HyCause programmes.

A$2.8 million was also awarded to a consortium including RMIT University, Taiwan's National Space Organisation and others to develop advanced platform technologies for in-space tracking and navigation, precise positioning, space weather, atmospheric modelling and climate monitoring.

A consortium including the Australian National University and the University of Toronto received A$2.1 million to define and develop for the Antarctic community a broadband service around small satellite communication systems.

Source: Flight International