Space Sensor research kicks off

29 Sep 2017 Media release

A new research and development program in space-borne sensor technologies has been officially launched by the Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Christopher Pyne MP.

CSIRO has provided $2.7 million in seed funding to establish a High Altitude Sensor Systems (HASS) Program to be delivered through the Defence Materials Technology Centre (DMTC), leveraging significant additional resources from across this emerging Australian industry sector.

The HASS program will enhance Australian defence capability and build industrial capacity in sensor and on-board data processing technology for unmanned aerial systems and small-satellite platforms.

A number of organisations across Australia, comprising innovative commercial enterprises and leading Universities and research agencies, will come together under the DMTC program.

Following a broad call for expressions of interest to the Australian space community in December 2016, 36 submissions involving 30 prospective industry partners and 28 research institutions were received and then shortlisted, with detailed submissions requested from the shortlisted candidates. Four projects have been approved and are expected to commence before the end of the calendar year (see list below).

The projects will leverage the initial CSIRO investment to a program of activity worth in excess of $6.1 million. DMTC is actively seeking opportunities to expand the program in future years.

Minister Pyne was speaking at the International Astronautical Conference being held in Adelaide, just the second time the prestigious event has been held in Australia since its establishment in the 1950s. The event attracted thousands of trade and government delegates to South Australia.

Minister Pyne said the DMTC was an important partner in the work of the Defence Innovation Hublaunched in 2016, which will invest around $640 million over the decade in Defence innovation development.

“The DMTC’s co-investment model makes every dollar invested by the Government go further,” Minister Pyne said.

“The involvement of the Defence customer ensures the relevance of the research work that is being undertaken, and the contributions from each industry and research partner reflects their shared commitment to delivering real and beneficial outcomes.”

Minister Pyne said today’s announcement reiterated the Government’s commitment to using its Defence dollar to improve Defence capability through innovation.

Projects selected for High Altitude Sensor Systems – Phase One*

Partner Organisations

Description of Project

HyVista Pty Ltd, University of Technology Sydney, Defence Science & Technology (DST) Group

Hyperspectral: Compact, spatially agile spectral sensor

SkyKraft Pty Ltd, CSIRO, Australian National University, University of NSW

Hyperspectral: Cubesat hyperspectral sensor for maritime / ocean monitoring

A.W. Bell Pty Ltd, La Trobe University, CSIRO, University of NSW

Materials & Manufacturing: Advanced Manufacturing of Cubesat Sensor Components

Seaskip Pty Ltd, University of NSW

High Frequency Sensors: Cubesat imaging radar


1. Subject to final negotiation and execution of contracts.

2. Under DMTC’s proven co-investment model, funding provided by Government agencies (in this case, CSIRO) is leveraged by contributions of cash and resources from industry and research partners.