Macquarie University to link Australia’s future smart satellites

Macquarie University, Media releases

As partners in the $245 million SmartSat CRC announced in Adelaide this morning.

Eighty-four research and industry partners are contributing $190 million investment in cash and in kind to the new Cooperative Research Centre for Smart Satellite Technologies and Analytics, and the Australian government is contributing a further $55 million. The CRC is led by the University of South Australia. 

“A new generation of low-cost smart satellite technology has the potential to enhance agriculture, mining, communication and national security,” says Associate Professor Sam Reisenfeld, who leads Macquarie University’s contribution to the CRC.

“Macquarie University is excited by the potential of the new CRC,” says Professor Darren Bagnall, Macquarie University’s Dean of Engineering. “We were pioneers in creating fast, reliable Wi-Fi chips, and today we continue to lead in wireless and satellite communication technologies.”

“Through the CRC we will further develop our technologies to enable satellites to communicate with each other and with users faster and more efficiently,” says Sam Reisenfeld. “Our contributions to the CRC will include artificial intelligence-based algorithms for satellites and Earth stations, technologies to integrate satellites with 5G phone networks, and ways to utilise satellite technology in the Internet of Things.

Bid Leader and SmartSat CEO designate, UniSA’s Professor Andy Koronios, says the CRC will be a game changer for Australia’s space economy.

“Globally space technologies and industries are worth more than $500 billion but that success has been underpinned by serious global investment in research,” Prof Koronios says.

“Australia has had a strong pedigree and a long history in space with excellent scientific capabilities in instrumentation and communications technologies, but until now the research has not been brought together to build a new industry for Australia, and to capitalise on the exponential growth of the global space economy.

“Our goal in bringing together the bid for the SmartSat CRC was to show the huge potential and capacity there is in Australia to make an impact globally by developing leapfrogging technologies in areas where we have some of the best expertise on the planet – AI, advanced communications and remote sensing analytics.”

The new CRC will be headquartered in South Australia but will establish state nodes to ensure that the whole of the nation is involved in the development of smart satellite technologies which will meet Australia’s needs to secure its defence, telecommunications and monitoring technologies into the future.

“This new CRC will re-energise Australia’s satellite communications expertise and capacity and launch a new era of development which will benefit every Australian enterprise into the future – improving communications for all Australians, helping us to monitor and protect our environment, enhance our understanding of climate change, protect our borders and our communications systems and advance the progress of new industries,” Prof Koronios says.

“We are delighted to have such strong support from both government and industry in forging a really powerful network for space technology innovation.”

Partners in the CRC include Australian-based global companies such as AIRBUS, BAE, MDA, Northrop Grumman,  Saab, SciSys, Dassault Systems, and THALES; Australian companies – Nova Systems, OPTUS, SHOAL, and FrontierSI; Australian startups – including X-Lab, Myriota, Fluorosat, Fleet, Innovor, Lyrebird, Delta-V; Australian universities and research organisations – UniSA, ANU, UNSW, RMIT, Swinburne, QUT, Curtin, Macquarie University, CSIRO, DST, the Universities of Queensland, Adelaide, Western Australia and Western Sydney; and international collaborators, UCL, Catapult, NASA, the European Space Agency and the National University of Singapore among many more.

A full list of the CRC partners is available online.

UniSA media contact: Michèle Nardelli mobile +61 418 823 673 or +61 882960854,

Macquarie University contact: Niall Byrne, mobile 0417 131 977 or 03 9398 1416,


What Macquarie University will bring to the CRC

  • The creation of artificial intelligence-based algorithms and techniques that significantly extend the function, performance, and reliability of satellite onboard signal processing
  • The creation of artificial intelligence-based algorithms and techniques that greatly enhance the adaptability, flexibility, expandability, performance, and reliability of satellite Earth stations
  • The application of software-defined hardware to new processing techniques to provide reliable satellite onboard signal processing which overcomes the destruction of logic gates and the loss of stored data due to gamma rays encountered by satellites in orbit
  • The development of new techniques to determine the direction of arrival of a radio signal to enable intelligent, adaptive, antenna beam forming onboard satellites
  • The creation of new system approaches which efficiently incorporate satellite links and 5G cellular telephone networks in a flexible network architecture
  • The development of efficient techniques to utilize satellite technology in Internet of Things networks
  • The creation of new, powerful approaches to greatly increase the security of data transmitted over satellite networks
  • The development of models which accurately characterize the channel characteristics of optical transmission between satellites and Earth stations
  • The creation of antenna types with new electronic-controlled beam steering techniques for both satellite antennas and Earth station antennas

What others are saying about the SmartSat CRC

“SmartSat CRC represents Australia’s best opportunity for innovation-based growth in space.” Peter Nikoloff, Co-Founder and Director, Nova Group and Director of the Board of the Space Industry association of Australia.

“I’m thrilled that the SmartSat CRC has been funded because it brings together all the players required to allow Australia to play a leading role in the development of a global space industry. Defence, through DST Group, is a proud partner in the SmartSat CRC.” Chief Defence Scientist, Professor Tanya Monro  

“Australian startups will need structure and support to get past the ‘valley of death’ between doing good research and producing good products.  The quicker we can bridge that gap the more competitive we will be and now is the time to start our manufacturing sector.  I look forward to supporting the SmartSat CRC to reach its potential.” Dr Jason Held, Chief Executive Officer, Saber Astronautics

“FrontierSI is excited at the opportunity to be a part of the emerging space industry that the SmartSat CRC will help create and support. We will apply our expertise, working alongside the SmartSat CRC, to ensure the research is looked at through the widest lens, creating further demand for Earth observation data and analytics across agriculture, mining, logistics and environmental management of natural disasters, such as fire and floods. This will make the work of the CRC and the importance of space research real, connecting technology to users and importantly maximising our use of space for the benefit of the Australian people and economy.” Graeme Kernich, FrontierSI CEO 

“The announcement of the CRC funding will assist start-ups in South Australia and around the country to enable future growth and further development.  First, the Australian Space Agency announcement and now with this further funding on its way – it really is a major step forward for the future of the Australian space industry.” Flavia Tata Nardini, FleetSpace CEO

“As a startup that was originally spun out of UniSA, we are thrilled that the university has continued its strong commercialisation focus through leading the bid to secure this new, exciting space-focused research centre. We anticipate that the SmartSat CRC will support the next generation of space related startups to emerge by fostering relationships and industry connections.  Securing the $200 million space industry-focused cooperative research centre is a significant milestone not only for UniSA but for the Australian space industry. It comes only months after the announcement that the Australian Space Agency will be headquartered in Adelaide and is another big win for the development of Australia’s space industry.” Myriota CEO and Co-founder, Dr Alex Grant

A full list of the CRC partners is available online.

UniSA media contact: Michèle Nardelli mobile +61 418 823 673 or +61 882960854,

Macquarie University contact: Niall Byrne, mobile 0417 131 977 or 03 9398 1416,