VC's Update - Major announcements on space and submarines

29 September 2017

Hello everyone,

I hope you are all enjoying this warmer weather and have some exciting plans for the second long weekend ahead of us.

I spent the last public holiday Monday in Adelaide at the 68th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), a week-long event that brings leaders in space together from across the globe. I would have liked to stay on longer to see the talks by Bill Nye (The Science Guy) and Elon Musk, who today gave an update on his plans to colonise Mars.

Among the IAC attendees were representatives of the world's national space agencies including NASA, ESA, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. Australia doesn't have a space agency as yet, but that looks to be changing, with news announced by the government at the beginning of the week that we will be getting one soon. A national space agency for Australia should allow us to coordinate our efforts - between Australian industry, academia and defence - to do bigger and bolder things than we have done before. ANU will be poised to play a leading role in this exciting new endeavour. Exciting times ahead, watch this space...

In other space-related news, we signed a number of MoU's this week which will see ANU continue to strengthen our collaborations in space engineering, research and technology.

On Monday we entered into an agreement with UNSW Canberra on building and testing satellites and space instruments. This collaboration, along with our sophisticated space testing facility at the Advanced Instrumental Technology Centre, means we have a professional end-to-end capability to conceive, design, build and test complete satellites so that they are ready for launch. 

Today we signed an MoU with the German Aerospace Center (DLR) to boost the role of ANU and Australia's space industries internationally. DLR has an impressive range of experience in communications satellites, planetary exploration, and human spaceflight programmes. We'll be working on projects together where we can put our own expertise in areas like optical instrumentation, laser physics and quantum technologies to good use.

From space to submarines, congratulations to the National Security College who has just won a Carnegie Corporation of New York grant of more than half a million dollars to fund research into how new technologies for detecting submarines will impact nuclear weapons strategies in Asia. The project, headed by Professor Rory Medcalf, will investigate whether changes in maritime technology will increase or lower the threat of nuclear war, ultimately informing recommendations for policy makers on how to mitigate risk.

Next week I am off to Asia for about 2 weeks where I'll be visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai and Beijing. It will be a whirlwind trip, but I'm looking forward to meeting with our international Alumni and friends.



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Comment by Stuart Scowcroft
5.45pm 3 Oct 2017

I too was at the IAC and was excited to see the breadth of vision. that our ANU is increasing focus on space is good to see. Outside my research I am working to create various television space projects including sending a rocket of our own to the moon. Perhaps we can use local expertise as we modify the rocket. Elon Musk's presentation was inspiring. Not a great presenter but a great visionary and it is impossible to listen to him and not believe he will achieve it all. 100 people on Mars in 2024. I believe him.