Australia and New Zealand’s strong trans-Tasman connection is being strengthened, with an agreement to boost collaboration in space. 

Australia’s leading space research centre SmartSat CRC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the New Zealand Space Agency (NZSA). The MoU will support projects that develop new capabilities and expertise in the space sector.

The prime focus areas will be advancing innovation, research and development, and workforce development.

Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, said this agreement reaffirms our strong space partnership with New Zealand.

‘Not only do our nations share a unique geographic position, we are also aligned when it comes to using space technology and innovation to improve life here on Earth,’ Mr Palermo said.

‘The Australian Space Agency is proud to have worked with Smart Sat CRC and New Zealand Space Agency to stand up this agreement, which builds on Australian Government investments in capabilities such as optical ground stations.

‘Space is a global endeavour and by sharing knowledge and resources, we can create outcomes that benefit both our nations.’

SmartSat CRC CEO, Professor Andy Koronios, said the partnership will enable Australia and New Zealand to join forces and harness resources and expertise for several important projects.

‘Earth Observation research plays a critical role in better understanding environmental challenges that pose significant risks to both our countries,’ Professor Koronios said.

‘The agriculture sector is crucial for both Australia and New Zealand, and improving sustainable practices through pasture mapping, human activity, and emission monitoring will be vital for current and future food security.’

The MoU will encourage new joint research initiatives between New Zealand and Australian space industries in:

  • Earth Observation: covering Natural Capital, Biosecurity, Crop Health, Pasture Condition, Emission Monitoring, South Pacific Synthetic Aperture Radar and Maritime Domain Awareness. These research projects will aim to use space data to enhance decision making for land and sea-based environments.
  • Space Situational Awareness: developing new techniques to monitor the orbital environment better. One example is Satping – spacecraft position and velocity and ID from the spacecraft. Another is ground-sensor data processing and visualisations for anomalies and manoeuvre detections.
  • Optical Communications: joint science work on adaptive optics to explore how to coordinate a network of Australasian optical ground stations that can actively support space exploration.

Caption for the above image: (L-R) SmartSat CEO, Professor Andy Koronios with Acting Head of the New Zealand Space Agency, Robyn Henderson at their headquarters in Wellington, New Zealand

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