The Australian and UK Space Agencies are supporting three collaborative space projects with a range of benefits to life here on Earth. 

The projects have been chosen under phase two of the UK’s £20 million (A$ 40 million) International Bilateral Fund, which aims to strengthen UK space sector partnerships with other nations.

Australia is co-funding these projects through the Australian Space Agency’s International Space Investment Fund initiative.

From addressing food security and water scarcity to the health of our waterways and more sustainable space activities, the projects represent the sustainability priorities of the UK and Australian space sectors.

The projects will unlock future economic opportunities for the UK and Australia, as well as directly supporting science missions and technologies with strong commercial potential.

Autonomous Agriculture for Space Exploration

This project will make step-change improvements to vertical farming technologies. It will also ensure that plants survive longer and grow well in space, among other broader benefits on Earth. 

AUS Partners: University of Adelaide, University of Western Australia, University of Southern Queensland, South Australian Space Industry Centre

UK-Lead: Vertical Future Ltd

UK Partners: University of Cambridge, Axiom Space, Saber Astronautics

AI for Space Operations, Safety and Sustainability

This project will accelerate the foundations for the creation of an international Institute on AI for space safety and sustainability that will position Australia and UK at the forefront of research and innovation in this field.

AUS Partners: Nominal Systems

UK-Lead: University of Strathclyde

UK Partners: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, University of Arizona, University of Waterloo, Columbiad, GMV UK, LIFT ME OFF LTD, The Alan Turing Institute.


Aquawatch UK (space-enabled water management)

This project will provide data on the status of critical ecosystems such as coastal mangroves and facilitate the reduction in agricultural pollution through targeted fertiliser applications. 

AUS Partners: Airbus Australia Pacific, CSIRO, Smartsat CRC

UK-Lead: Surrey Satellite Technology Limited

UK Partners: Assimila, RAL Space, Pixalytics, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science


Two people posing
(L-R) UK Space Agency CEO Dr Paul Bate and Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo. 

Project with impacts for our planet

Dr Paul Bate, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: 

“The International Bilateral Fund is all about combining UK expertise with global talent because we can achieve so much more by working together. This important investment from the Australian Space Agency strengthens our existing collaboration through the Space Bridge and will support innovative projects that bring together organisations from across our two nations.

“Australia is a key international partner, and together we are breaking new ground and using the vast power of space to protect and benefit lives on Earth.”

Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo said this funding builds on the collaboration fostered through the UK-Australia Space Bridge.

“By working with our international partners like the UK, we can continue to grow the Australian space sector while delivering outcomes that benefit communities in both of our nations.

The projects being supported through this fund reiterate how space can help address the biggest global challenges we are facing – as well as the power of working together to solve a common problem.”

Main image: A view of an Australian coastline from Europe's Sentinel-2A spacecraft. As part of today's announcement, the AquaWatch technology will be piloted across the UK to help safeguard freshwater and coastal resources.

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