About Us

Space engineering is an old business. Sputnik wowed the world over fifty years ago, although the Soviet Union which launched it doesn’t exist anymore. The Hubble Space Telescope has its 20th birthday in 2010. The International Space Station began construction 12 years ago and is due for completion this year.

After the US and France, in 1967, Australia was the fourth country to launch its own earth-orbiting satellite. But the intervening forty years have been ones of mixed fortune for Australians with an interest in space. With the establishment of the Australian government’s new Space Policy Unit, however, space engineering in Australia has entered a new era.

It is now time for Australia to engage more fully with what a space capability would deliver for this country. At a time when the US is imagining a citizen on Mars, when China and India imagine citizens on the moon, when Virgin Galactic is imagining its craft taking tourists into space, this is a good time for Australia to re-imagine itself and its own contribution to space engineering.

The Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER) will build on UNSW’s engineering strengths. The satellite navigation group under Professor Chris Rizos in the UNSW School of Surveying and Geospatial Engineering is one of the most prominent in the world, with activity ranging from technologies with mm-level accuracy, to location technologies that work where satellites do not, such as indoors. Associate Professor Linlin Ge’s earth observation group has drawn great attention for their ability to process satellite images quickly, responding to natural disasters such as earthquakes and bushfires. The hypersonics group at ADFA has for many years collaborated with the world’s leading space agencies (NASA, DLR, JAXA) performing ground based testing and flight testing of hypersonic systems and vehicles for space launch and planetary exploration. Across Australia’s largest engineering faculty, ACSER can draw on expertise in communications, control systems, robotics, image processing, signal processing, high temperature and high impact materials, photovoltaics, energy systems, robust computing and more.

At ACSER we aim initially to develop both undergraduate and postgraduate project-based courses, install a ground station to receive remote-sensed data, develop several technology demonstrators, initiate a national space payload competition, set up a national GNSS testing and certification centre, and maybe even launch the long-running UNSW student project, BlueSat. We aim to make strategic hires of several top-class researchers.

ACSER will partner with strategic collaborators including space companies such as Astrium and BAE Systems and the NSW government’s Land and Property Management Authority.