6 mins read 20 May 2022

Satellite Manufacturing Hub given the green light after funding awarded

The Australian Satellite Manufacturing Hub in the South Jerrabomberra Regional Jobs Precinct in NSW has received funding from both the federal and NSW state governments. It will become the first Satellite Manufacturing Hub for larger Earth observation satellites in Australia.   

Pictured above left to right: Glen Tindall, CEO, EOS Space Systems; Senator Jim Molan, Senator for NSW; The Hon Angus Taylor, Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction; Dr Jerry Nockles, Candidate for Eden-Monaro; Mike Gallagher, Director Defence NSW, Investment NSW; Adam Smith, Managing Director, Nova Systems Australia and New Zealand.

Earlier this year, Canberra-based Electro Optic Systems (EOS) announced they were collaborating with Nova Systems, UTS Tech Lab, Gilmour Space Technologies to bid for a grant to develop an Australian Satellite Manufacturing Hub (ASMH). This week the hub got the green light after it was announced that the federal and NSW state governments would invest around \$23million each into the \$71.4 Million project.  

The ASMH will provide secure facilities to enable research and development collaborations between industry, leading Australian universities and Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO - as well as the design, prototyping, manufacturing, integration, and testing of large satellites and payloads. It is hoped that the facility will provide opportunities to develop space technology that has not been available in Australia outside of small research facilities. 

“We now need to build a proper industrial capability. This investment underpins that capability with the facilities designed to support multiple programs from small satellites up to quite large spacecraft,”  said Glen Tindall, CEO, EOS Space Systems of the announcement.

“The reason that it's necessary is that while you can do a lot of things with small spacecraft there are a lot of things you just need a bigger asset for and up until now those facilities have only been available overseas. Hence you know when the government or industry wishes to go out and acquire a spacecraft of a certain size they've always had to go overseas. So, this is really a fundamental piece of infrastructure which enables us to develop this capability at home.” 

The project's satellite manufacturing hub addresses key opportunity areas identified in the federal government's modern manufacturing strategy, under the Space National Manufacturing Priority road map. This includes areas such as nano and small satellite development, propellants and fuels, payloads, sensors, solar panels, structural components, optics, new space-related technologies and materials, optical wireless communication technologies and key ground segment subsystems.  

Government Support

Senator Jim Molan announcing the funding on the 17th May 2022. From left; Dr Jerry Nockles, Candidate for Eden-Monaro, The Hon Angus Taylor, Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction, Adam Smith, Managing Director, Nova Systems Australia and New Zealand, Glen Tindall, CEO, EOS Space Systems Credit: Senator Jim Molan.

Federal Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction Angus Taylor said, “Funding for the Australian Satellite Manufacturing Hub will further help lift our credentials as a leading space nation."

“This Hub will help grow capability in our space sector, support the development of new high-skilled jobs and enable the space supply chain a place where collaboration to build large satellites is right here at home,” added Minister Taylor.

“I've been working on this one for quite some time and it's fantastic to see the federal and state government both stepping in behind us to support this great initiative,” said Tindall.  

Tindall, who recently attended the 37th Space Symposium in Colorado this month is looking further afield than just the Australian space market. 

“There was a very strong feeling towards partnership between the US and Australia and what we can do together,” said Tindall of the symposium.

“We need to start knocking out exports. When we look at a company like EOS we've been around for about 35 years and we are about 90% exports, so most of our customers are overseas and so we've got a lot of heritage in doing that. So, we anticipate being competitive on the world stage with a number of these sorts of programs,” added Tindall. 

Nova is also looking to expand their capabilities within the Australian space industry. 

“The industry in Australia has already begun. We are very early on in our journey, but the industry in Australia has already begun to find those advantages and is getting traction and we will join that journey in terms of delivering the best capability in the niches that we can operate in and the markets always evolving, so we have to continue to find those niche areas,” said Andrew Mannix, Executive General Manager, Mission Solutions at Nova Systems.

Industry research and government Collaboration

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.

Both EOS and Nova believe they complement each other and it is this that will ensure the success of their collaboration. The two organisations are planning on setting up a joint venture as part of the project which will see them collaborating with other organisations such as Gilmour Space Technologies and UTS Tech Lab. 

Gilmour is also excited by this announcement, with Michelle Gilmour, Director, Marketing & Communications, Gilmour Space Technologies saying that “it’s great to see this win for other Australian-owned companies like EOS and Nova Systems. EOS is also a partner in our Australian Space Manufacturing Network, and we hope to see some good synergies across all the space hubs in Australia.”

“As part of the project a dedicated R&D facility will be developed at the UTS Tech Lab adjacent to Sydney’s Tech Central which will foster collaboration across academia, industry and our growing skilled workforce,” said NSW Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade Stuart Ayres.

“We want to get more into programs so the partnership with EOS around the Australian Satellite Manufacturing Hub is a great opportunity for us to advance that strategic objective. Effectively, we want to be delivering more physical capability for our customers,” said Mannix

Electro-Optic Systems operates in two divisions, defence systems and space systems and according to Tindall has a portfolio spanning a number of areas.

"We are doing space domain awareness, supporting Australia and multiple governments to look at and track space debris [so they] have an understanding of what's going on in space. We're building advanced laser technology and we're making telescopes and advanced optics.” 

The UTS Tech Lab facilities are an important part of the development with Tindall adding that it is a fantastic facility in Port Botany in New South Wales which is already available giving a quick start capability and also access to some immediate talent. 

One thing both organisations want to support is the creation of local jobs with Tindall saying that the hub's location was an important part of the decision process. 

“This is fabulous news for South Jerrabomberra and the Queanbeyan region,” added Mannix.

“We took the decision to rather than put everything in a major capital city we decided to build our facility in regional NSW because we believe strongly that developing jobs and careers in the regions is important for Australia on a national level,” concluded Tindall. 

It is estimated that the project will directly generate 125 full-time, high-skilled jobs in NSW – around half of these located in regional NSW – as well as have a multiplier effect that results in the creation of 375 additional jobs throughout the supply chain and broader economy.

It is hoped that the ground will be broken on the project soon with the design of the precinct currently awaiting approval.