Australia announces another AU$41 million of grants for space projects

More funding will be provided to organisations focusing on mission development activities for current and existing space projects under Australia's Moon to Mars initiative.
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor
Image: Space Imaging via Getty Images

More federal government grants for space technology initiatives are on the way, according to Minister for Science and Technology Melissa Price, who on Tuesday announced a second round of grants for the Demonstrator Program under the Moon to Mars initiative.

The Demonstrator Program provides funding to Australian industry and research institutions focusing on mission development activities for current and existing space projects. The objectives of the program are to support Australia's ambitions to join NASA's endeavour to go to the Moon and then Mars and accelerate the growth of Australia's space industry.

For this round of grants, organisations will be able to apply for "mission grants" of between AU$750,000 and AU$10 million from a total AU$41 million grant pool.

"The more Australian technology we can help launch into space, the more the global space community stands up and takes notice of our businesses and researchers," Price said.

"Supporting Australian companies to develop their space experience is essential for them to break into new markets and supply chains -- which in turn will draw more investment into our country to grow our economy and create more jobs."

During the Demonstrator Program's initial round earlier this year, 20 projects received up to AU$200,000 each for their feasibility studies. Most of the grant recipients from that round were local universities. Around AU$3.5 million was provided in total during the first round.

Organisations will have until the end of June next year to apply for the grant.

Beyond the Demonstrator Program, the Moon to Mars initiative also recently launched its flagship Trailblazer program, which entails the Australian government working with NASA to create an Australian-built semi-autonomous rover that will be used in future missions to the moon and Mars.

The federal government said last month that the Trailblazer rover is expected to be capable of operating on the moon, provide lunar regolith to a NASA payload with a "high level of autonomy", and weigh 20kg or less. It also said at the time that the rover could be launched into space as early as 2026.


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