ITR Consortium Awarded $5 million Space Grant

UniSA leads research into national wireless sensor network

UniSA’s Institute for Telecommunications Research will be leading the charge in developing a new satellite-based wireless sensor network to provide Australia with an improved capacity to collect information vital for industry, defence, the environment and national security.
Announced by Innovation, Science and Research Minister, Senator Kim Carr
, the University has been awarded $5 million under the federal government’s priority program – the Australian Space Research Program.
Matched with an investment from partners, including Canadian partner and global designer and manufacturer of space hardware, COM DEV, South Australian companies: EMS Satcom Pacific and SAGE Automation, as well as national organisations: DSTO, CSIROAustralian Institute for Marine Science, the project will be worth more than $12 million over 2.5 years. 
Director of UniSA’s Institute for Telecommunications Research (ITR) Professor Alex Grant say this latest investment in satellite communications technologies underlined the strength of the State’s expertise in the field.
“This project will be vital in building Australia’s capability in space-based technologies and will have enormous benefits for a wide range of sectors from environmental management right through to the defence industry,” Prof Grant says.
“It is a strong show of support and an endorsement of the research innovation and excellence that is evolving at the ITR. It also fits well with a range of other new space-related developments at UniSA including the staging of the ISU Space Summer School at Mawson Lakes early in 2011.”
ITR’s expertise in space related technologies was boosted by its involvement in building payloads for the FedSat satellite in 2004 and the latest project will see researchers developing new payloads for a range of uses.
The project will scope and test the use of microsatellites, in this instance Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites, for use in providing two-way data communications to remote sensors and devices. 
By 2013 researchers hope to have developed and tested the payloads. At the first stage, the payloads will be tested using high altitude planes to assess their readiness for satellite application.
Prof Grant says the aim is to have space-ready payloads that can be reconfigured while in orbit so that data collection and exchange can be modified according to industry needs.
“This is an exciting development for the Institute and a great coup for South Australia,” he says.