4 mins read 18 Jun 2021

Space Agency awards two more Moon to Mars grants

Two grants totalling almost $850,000 have been awarded to a small Queensland electronics manufacturer and South Australian nanosatellite company as part of the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars initiative.

The Australian Space Agency has three outlined investment programs under their Moon to Mars initiative, which has been rolling out since last year. Credit: NASA

Crystalaid Manufacture, a high-tech electronics manufacturer from Queensland, and Fleet Space Technologies, a nanosatellite company from South Australia are the two latest recipients of the Moon to Mars Supply Chain Capability Improvement grants. Two previous grants announced in March 2021 were awarded to Australian companies under the investment program bringing the total of the grants to just over $2 million to date. 

The Supply Chain Capability Improvement grants are just one of three investment programs that form the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars initiative aimed at growing the Australian space industry. These grants are part of the partnership between the Australian Space Agency and NASA for future space cooperation which will see the Australian government commit to investing $150 million over five years to contribute to NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, including NASA’s Artemis lunar program. 

Minister for Industry, Science and Technology Christian Porter said the grants were designed to get more local companies involved in international supply chains and create new Australian jobs as part of the government’s $150 million Moon to Mars initiative.  

“These grants will support the two local businesses to develop their work and tap into national and international space supply chains, helping grow skills and capabilities in the Australian space industry,” Minister Porter said.

“We are helping Australian companies be part of NASA’s plan to return to the Moon and prepare for missions to Mars, at the same time as strengthening our own space manufacturing base.

“This funding complements our $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy which is supporting the space sector as one of the government’s six priority areas.” 

The Grants

Artist's impression of a moon base. Credit: ESA – P. Carril.

Crystalaid Manufacture, a small high-tech electronics manufacturer from Brisbane, Queensland was awarded $461,118 to replace and modernise their vacuum oven technology. This upgraded oven will help enhance their ability to supply electronics components to the international space industry. Vacuum ovens are used to separate and remove any moisture from components without exposing them to extreme heat which could be damaging. 

These components could be used in satellite electronics systems and will help Crystalaid meet new supply chain opportunities. This grant will also help Crystalaid grow the skills and capability of its manufacturing team. 

Fleet Space Technologies, a nanosatellite company based in Adelaide, South Australia, specialises in creating low-cost satellite-based systems for Industrial Internet of Things (IoT) applications. They received a grant of $386,770 to help the company and its partners SA Power Networks and OZ Minerals, demonstrate the viability of its agnostic hybrid Satellite low-powered wide area network (LPWAN) system for the development of remote IoT applications, both on Earth and in space. 

The companies will collaborate to miniaturise and ruggedize sensors for use in their satellite LPWAN system and illustrate a terrestrial application of space technology and hardware that can be extended to Moon to Mars activities.

“Winning this grant means our team can expedite and improve our manufacturing processes on devices specifically designed for our partners, that will ultimately end up on the Moon and Mars,” said Fleet Space CEO, Flavia Tata Nardini.

“Making them smaller with the ability to function when exposed to extreme temperatures they would experience once deployed in space, is really cool.

“It is an exciting acknowledgement of the high quality of work we are producing right here in Australia, and a step towards scaling up our capacity for global space industry customers to access.”

Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo congratulated the companies and said they demonstrated the high quality of work being produced in Australia. 

“These grants encourage the best in our local companies, helping them develop cutting-edge technologies, create partnerships and link into national and international supply chains,” Mr Palermo said.

“This strengthens Australian space manufacturing industry and helps build a high-tech workforce that can make a significant contribution to the national economy.

“Support from the Moon to Mars initiative and other government programs, combined with the talent and innovation of local space manufacturers, is strengthening Australia’s national space capability and enhancing Australia’s ability to compete in the international space economy.”

The Australian Moon to Mars Supply Chain Capability Improvement Grants are open to Australian businesses until 1 May 2023. 

Apply for a grant and for more information about the Moon to Mars supply chain capability improvement grant