UK-Australia Space Bridge Celebrates Three Years In Orbit


The UK-Australia Space Bridge celebrates 3 years of successful collaborations this February.

Space Bridge is an arrangement between Australia and the UK to grow their space sectors. It also boosts export and investment opportunities and R&D collaborations.

Highlights of the Space Bridge to date include:

  • eight Australian-UK partnerships receiving grants under the International Bilateral Fund
  • a new tool to showcase Australian and UK space capabilities
  • delegations from Australia visiting the UK and vice versa
  • Deloitte Innovation, through the GRAVITY Challenge, accelerating innovative ideas by Australian and UK companies.

Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, says the partnership supports space sector growth in applications that positively impact the planet.

‘Space Bridge activities are demonstrating how working together in space drives outcomes across our economies,’ he says.

‘In 3 years, this partnership has driven investment and established new connections that are helping our respective space sectors develop applications that benefit life on Earth.’

‘The UK-Australia relationship in space goes all the way back to the 1960s,’ says Dr Paul Bate, CEO, UK Space Agency. ‘The Space Bridge is another key milestone in this long-standing bond. Space is a team sport, and our joint work has strengthened both our space sectors.

“By sharing our resources across Government, industry and academia, we have created new opportunities for dialogue. We have also opened the doors to a bright future of collaboration, uniting over the shared goals of Australia and the UK.’

Two men in suits speaking with a third man in a black T-shirt.

Enrico Palermo, Head of the Australian Space Agency (left) and Dr Paul Bate, CEO, UK Space Agency, meeting HEO’s CEO Dr William Crowe, at the 16th Australian Space Forum in Sydney.

Grants for R&D collaborations

In 2023, the first grants under the UK’s £20 million International Bilateral Fund were distributed. The Fund aims to develop technologies that will advance global space capabilities. The grants were awarded to 31 partnerships, 8 of which were between Australian and UK organisations.

One of these partnerships is between Australia’s HEO and D-Orbit UK. HEO offers non-Earth imaging and analytics services. These services help commercial, government and defence organisations to identify, characterise and monitor space objects at scale.

The partnership combines D-Orbit UK’s expertise in space logistics and HEO’s satellite inspection software platform and non-Earth imaging dedicated sensor. The result is a new responsive and efficient in-orbit inspection system.

‘Our solution aims to revolutionise the way we approach space sustainability,’ says HEO CEO Dr William Crowe. ‘It supports new ways of inspecting debris and maintaining and servicing critical space assets.’

The grant has spurred the start of a long-term partnership between D-Orbit UK and HEO. The strategic goals of both companies are aligned with the Five Eyes space strategies and priorities.

‘Our individual capabilities strengthen our combined offerings,’ says Crowe. ‘It allows us to deliver meaningful solutions between domains and across governments and attract new business.’

Crowe says the UK-Australia Space Bridge is invaluable in helping companies expand globally.

‘The Space Bridge helps Australian companies enter the UK market,’ he says. ‘It also opens doors by making influential introductions and helping establish credibility.

‘By supporting early growth, the program enables partnerships to be established – partnerships that can lead to pioneering technology development. This will help achieve strategic stability and sustained space advantage and safety.’

Supply Chain Mapping Tool showcases space capabilities

Australia and the UK launched a Supply Chain Mapping Tool to showcase their space sector capabilities. The tool makes it easier to identify opportunities for collaboration and growth. The UK’s Satellite Applications Catapult, the UK Government and Australia’s SmartSat CRC developed the tool.

Australian Space Industry Capability Database

The database provides interactive data and visualisations that demonstrate the scale and capability of the Australian space sector. It includes capability information, workforce data and detailed company profiles. The Space Industry Association Australia (SIAA) developed the database.

Soft Landing Zones for collaboration

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