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6 mins read 12 Oct 2021

EOS proposing development of Satellite Manufacturing hub

Canberra-based Electro Optic Systems are leading a drive to develop an Australian Satellite Manufacturing Hub in NSW to manufacture satellites up to 500-kilograms.

EOS are collaborating with SITAEL, an experienced Satellite manufacturing company to develop the ASMH. Credit: SITAEL

Electro Optic Systems (EOS) and project partners Nova Systems and Gilmour Space are taking steps to expand their presence within the Australian space industry by leading the development of an Australian Satellite Manufacturing Hub (ASMH). The proposal, brings together Adelaide based defence and space consulting firm, Nova Systems, Queensland based rocket manufacturer Gilmour Space Technologies and around 30 other local and international entities, is part of the Federal Governments, Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) - Collaborative Stream.  

According to EOS, the collaboration aims to rapidly develop a robust sovereign space manufacturing capability. Part of the proposal includes leading European satellite manufacturer, SITAEL. The Italian company has more than 20 years of space heritage and is a specialist in the manufacture of satellites in the 75 kilogram - 300 kilogram range. 

“SITAEL will accelerate and de-risk ASMH via training and technology-transfer of spacecraft design, assembly, integration and testing,” said a spokesperson for EOS. 

“Space missions are complex systems that require a diverse range of manufacturing, research and development expertise. ASMH has attracted the support of more than 30 Australian manufacturers with space expertise, industry bodies, research and education institutions,” they added. 

SITAEL opened a new facility in Australia in 2020. The new satellite design office is part of the LOT FOURTEEN space precinct. This followed the signing of a Statement of Strategic Intent with the Australian Space Agency in 2018. SITAEL belongs to Angel Group, an Italian holding and world leader in Railway, Aerospace and Aeronautics markets.

The EOS led proposal will enable the development of spacecraft up to 500 kilograms, specifically as there is a growing requirement for larger spacecraft that have enhanced onboard processing capabilities, due to the inclusion of propulsion, longer endurance and increased physical size for cameras and sensors.   

EOS believes this is where the Australian satellite market is headed and these larger satellites will be ideally suited for future Australian government missions and, more broadly, the emerging global market that is moving beyond the limitations of CubeSats and equivalent sized spacecraft. 

A Collaborative Initiative to Space Manufacturing

Earlier this year, Gilmour and EOS signed an MOU to ensure the compatibility of SpaceLink communications terminals with the new Gilmour Space Technologies G-Class satellite platform. Left. Dr Ben Green, CEO of Electro-Optic Systems (EOS) and Right. Adam Gilmour CEO of Gilmour Space. Credit - Gilmour Space Technologies.

The collaboration sees both local and international organisations coming together to propose a satellite manufacturing hub, and will combine skills, knowledge and resources of three of Australia’s leading space and engineering enterprises – Electro Optic Systems, Nova Systems, and Gilmour Space Technologies.  

“Nova Systems has a 21 year pedigree of involvement with space systems engineering.  We believe the ASMH will provide an enduring capability for Australia to design and manufacture the technology we’ll need to support the many space-based requirements we have now and in the future,” said Adam Smith, Managing Director, Australia and New Zealand, Nova Systems.

“We're supporting the Australia Satellite Manufacturing Hub in NSW, as it will bring more interstate synergy into the Australian space ecosystem. Both EOS and Nova Systems are sovereign companies with decades-long experience in growing new businesses, and our goal is to leverage on each other's strengths to build new sovereign space capabilities for manufacturing launch vehicles and satellites in Australia,” said Adam Gilmour, Gilmour Space Technologies CEO and Co-Founder.  

As well as Nova Systems and Gilmour Space Technologies, the ASMH proposal is supported by a number of local organisations including, Australia’s leading printed circuit board (PCB) company, Lintek, specialist composite materials manufacturer, NSW based, Quickstep, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), and CubeSat manufacturing companies, Myriota, Skykraft, Space Machines and Valiant Space. There are also a number of international companies supporting the bid, including US-based space data relay company SpaceLink. 

The ASMH has the goal of creating at least 125 direct jobs and over 350 indirect positions and looks to develop a diverse and high technology supply chain network. EOS also believes this will deliver direct investment in infrastructure and collaboration with the research and education sector driving Australia’s space industry to the next level of success.   

Integrating the Australian Space Research Community

The UTS tech Lab, includes some very interesting and state of the art facilities such as this Electromagnetics Informatics Lab, also known as the Antenna Chamber. This room is free from unwanted RF noise, making it perfect for testing space based infrastructure. Credit: UTS.

The proposal is also being supported by the University of Technology, Sydney, (UTS) with the ASMH supporting the delivery of satellite and payload research, design, development, manufacture, and innovation through UTS’ Tech Lab in Sydney’s Tech Central innovation and technology precinct.  

“UTS Tech Lab is delighted to actively support the Australian Satellite Manufacturing Hub (ASMH) proposal by EOS, Nova Systems and Gilmour Space. The goal of Tech Lab is to build partnerships between university and industry, and to use our extensive laboratory facilities to work with companies on product development and testing,” said the Director of UTS Tech Lab, Dr Ray Kirby. 

Training and upskilling Australia’s workforce is a key enabling requirement for the Australian Satellite Manufacturing Hub. The UTS Tech Lab facility is an integral component of the project’s objectives to train and qualify individuals and SMEs and to form the necessary linkages with the education, training and manufacturing sectors.  

In order to build the wide variety of skill sets and experience required for satellite missions, the UTS Tech Lab facility in Botany, NSW will include a Design Office environment supporting product development, design prototyping, and a training facility.

“Tech Lab already hosts a range of large structural testing facilities, as well as the largest antenna chamber in Australia. These facilities complement the ASMH proposal and the new development and testing capabilities planned for the space industry, which Tech Lab will host and make available to industry partners and our high tech start-up community,” added Dr Kirby.

A number of other research organisations are also supporting the collaboration, as well as UTS, the University of Sydney (USyd), the University of South Australia (UniSA), Macquarie University, CSIRO and the Victorian Space Science Education Centre.

EOS are also supporting the Gilmour-led Australian Space Manufacturing Network (ASMN) based in Queensland. Whereas the Queensland facilities are optimised towards launch and innovative start-up satellite manufacturing, the NSW facilities will be optimised for larger-scale defence and civil government programs, which require different work practices, processes and security treatments than those for commercial enterprises.