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Moon, Mars and beyond: Queensland pair cashed up for shot at space

Business

Valiant Space and QUT have both received a shot at space.

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The two organisations have received Federal Government funding to develop new technologies for use in future NASA missions to space.

The Moon to Mars Demonstrator Feasibility grants will see 20 organisations receive up to $200,000 each to conduct feasibility testing and to transform their concepts into the next generation of space products and services.

One of the companies, Brisbane-based Valiant Space, has partnered with Skykraft to do a feasibility study on a joint venture demonstration mission which would pioneer several key capabilities for the Australian sector.

Valiant is developing an in-space chemical thruster and chief executive Andrew Uscinski said they had proved to be crucial technology for other space-faring nations.

The feasibility study will investigate and de-risk the planned mission and develop concepts for deep-space missions using Skykraft technology “out to the moon, Mars and beyond”.

Researchers from QUT’s Centre for Robotics will partner with Canadian-based space technology company MDA and Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth in designing a logistics robot prototype that may be used inside the International Space Station (ISS) or the Lunar Gateway, a rendezvous point for astronauts on missions to the surface of the Moon and as a springboard for robotic and human expeditions on to Mars.

The QUT-led consortium will develop a robot that can handle logistics within an orbiting station.

The Federal Government announced $199,500 funding for the project under the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars demonstrator feasibility grants.

Centre for Robotics Director Distinguished Professor Peter Corke said the robot would be controlled from Earth and would build on QUT research including technology that won the Amazon Challenge to develop a picking-and-packing robot.

“This is a great project with great partners,” Professor Corke said. 

“It takes our Amazon Robotic Challenge winning robotic grasping technology, and our cloud-based robot control software, to create an assistive robot that could work on a space station. “

QUT’s involvement in the Moon to Mars project follows on from its current role in the NASA Perseverance Rover mission on Mars.

 

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