Lunar rover and space thruster supported with Moon to Mars grants

Twenty organisations have shared $4 million in Moon to Mars Demonstrator Feasibility grants supporting projects ranging from university testing facilities to the development of a Lunar Construction Rover and an in-space chemical thruster.

The grants will help transform concepts into space products and services, building an ecosystem of companies supporting the Australian Space Agency’s $150 million Moon to Mars initiative.

Highlights of the full list of 20 successful projects include:

  • The University of Adelaide received $198,404 to build a cold vacuum chamber known as the Lunar Surface Simulation Stage, which simulates space
  • Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth received $200,000 to develop and commercialise its remotely operated Lunar Construction Rover
  • And Valiant Space received $200,000 to investigate its proposed Fast Acting Space Transportation (FAST) Demonstrator Mission. In collaboration with SkyKraft, the mission will develop a non-toxic, high performance propellant for deep-space applications.

Head of the Australian Space Agency Enrico Palermo said the Demonstrator Feasibility grant recipients highlighted the breadth, depth and excellence of skills in the Australian civil space sector.

“The projects funded are leading examples of Australia’s capabilities in developing space technologies, which will only continue to grow and expand into the future.

“Strengthening national capability is one of the key pillars in the Australian Civil Space Strategy.”

In February Valiant successfully tested Australia’s first in-space chemical thruster designed to help satellites manoeuvre in orbit and in space (pictured).

The test demonstrated a thrust of 20 Newtons and a specific impulse of approximately 290 seconds in vacuum conditions, exceeding expectations according to Valiant CEO, Andrew Uscinski.

Industry minister Christian Porter said the grants provided pathways for Australian organisations to play an important part in NASA’s plans to return to the Moon and go beyond to Mars.

Picture: Valiant Space

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