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4 mins read 15 Jun 2020

Saber gets green light for Australian Mission Control Centre

Saber Astronautics has been announced as the recipient of a $6 million grant to develop Australia’s space mission control centre with the Australian Space Agency.

Artist illustration of the RSOC Mission Control Centre. Credit: Saber Astronautics.

Australia’s space community will soon have its first Mission Control Centre, with the Australian Government awarding a $6 million grant to Saber Astronautics to establish a new state-of-the-art hub facility, which will be available to start-ups, researchers, SMEs and education institutions will be able to build, test, and manage their space assets.

The new centre – funded by the Department of Industry, Science, Innovation and Resources and in conjunction with the Australian Space Agency – will be called the ‘Responsive Space Operations Centre’ (RSOC) and will be located on the ground floor of the McEwin Building at the Lot Fourteen precinct in Adelaide, joining the headquarters of the Australian Space Agency and the Australian Space Discovery Centre. Doors to the facility are expected to open in six months, with the first iteration of facilities available.

Capabilities of the RSOC will include concurrent design, pre-flight testing, launch support, as well as live operations during flight. The RSOC will also be the first professional control centre in the world to use machine learning in spacecraft day-to-day operations along with 3D gaming technologies.

Saber’s CEO, Dr Jason Held, explained this as a willingness for Australia to leap ahead. “Running Australia’s new Mission Control Centre is one of the most exciting opportunities we’ve ever had. It shows that the Australian Space Agency as a brand new space program is indeed looking to do business differently, tackle the hard problems, and make a serious play for space. For Saber Astronautics, this is nothing less than our dream job.”

Minister for Industry, Science, and Technology Karen Andrews said the Mission Control Centre would help grow Australia’s space sector, which will be an important part of our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The Mission Control Centre will support the creation of high-tech jobs and boost the growth of space-based communication technologies and services sectors.

“Space is also an incredible tool which can help other Australian industries to grow – from making our farmers more productive to giving our advanced manufacturers new supply chains to become a part of.”

Artist illustration of what the RSOC Mission Control Centre will look like. Credit: Saber Astronautics/Australian Space Agency/Twitter.

Head of the Australian Space Agency Dr. Megan Clark AC said the centre would become a focal point for Australia’s national space activities.

“The centre will be available for use by start-ups and small-to-medium enterprises, as well as research and educational institutions to control space assets. It will also be used for real-time testing and fast-tracking the improvement of satellite technology.”

Building upon the technology that Saber Astronautics has already established to reduce risk to investors, the RSOC will support the day-to-day missions of Australian space companies and their supply chains. Australia has seen a boom in the sector over the last three years, with nearly 100 companies forming in that time.

The RSOC will also be supported by a marketplace of telescopes and dishes around the world, working to help track Australian assets – like Cubesats – in orbit. As a result, Australian-based companies will have access to a new model of tracking their assets in space, working with global suppliers and institutions.

Saber is partnering with Deloitte to design secure business models for this marketplace, in addition to the financial institution providing expertise in cybersecurity and experience design for the RSOC.

“We are extraordinarily pleased to have so much support from national and international capability to help propel Australia’s mission control capability to the next level”, said Saber’s Australian Director, Andreas Antoniades. “This collaboration and grant opportunity brings together pioneering space companies, universities, and government institutions to help build the future for our nation in space.

Saber Astronautics

Saber Astronautics was founded in 2008 by Dr. Jason Held,  growing as one of Australia’s space community’s leaders - specialises in space engineering, spacecraft operations, and space data services.

The company is located in Sydney, as well as Boulder, Colorado. In November 2019, Saber Astronautics was awarded a $2.1 million contract by the Australian Department of Defense to develop an intelligent data fusion network capable of processing a high number of space objects, quickly.

In June 2019, the Arc Training Centre of CubeSats, UAVs, and their Applications (CUAVA) also announced that Saber Astronautics would be partnering with them for three months of continual spacecraft operational support for their CUAVA-1 asset, once launched from the International Space Station.