Sydney-based CUAVA Center wins NSW funding for space program

CUAVA Director Professor Iver Cairns launched the center in 2019.

The Australian Research Council’s Training Center for CubeSats, Drones and Their Applications (CUAVA) was selected to lead the NSW Government’s pilot space qualification mission. The mission will launch NSW-developed space technology payloads into orbit to demonstrate their operation in space and test their commercial plans and services.

Code-named ‘Waratah Seed’, the project consortium will be led by the Director of CUAVA, Professor Iver Cairns of the University of Sydney and will include ACSER at the University of NSW, Saber Astronautics, Delta-V, l ‘Macquarie University and the University of Technology. Sydney.

The Waratah Seed project will develop, build and launch a satellite carrying payloads developed by space companies and start-ups in NSW.

Jobs, Investment, Tourism and West Sydney Minister Stuart Ayres said the space qualification mission program would tackle one of the biggest hurdles for businesses in the space sector, by being able to prove that their technology works in space.

“NSW is home to almost half of Australia’s space companies and generates about half of all space-related revenue nationally – there is no better place to support space technology research and development in order to creating the jobs of the future, ”said Ayres.

“CUAVA is leading the way in developing the space technology of the future and training the people who will use it. It is an exceptional choice to take on this mission.”

CUAVA Director Professor Cairns said: “Waratah Seed represents a bold new approach to developing the space industry in New South Wales. It combines a Selection Competition for NSW Space Industry Group Payloads with Commercial Client Program Payloads, both top-notch. We will be working with the public, space industry companies and other payload groups across the state, not just in Sydney, to deliver the project and help build a vibrant NSW space industry.

CUAVA, based at the University of Sydney, works to improve and innovate the applications of CubeSats, a new class of small satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), for Earth observations, GPS, communications by satellite and space weather.

Prior to starting the Waratah Seed project, CUAVA will launch its satellite, CUAVA-1, from Cape Canaveral in August 2021. This will be the first satellite designed, developed and launched by the Training Center. CUAVA-1 will drive first generation experimental payloads developed by students and other researchers from CUAVA partner institutions.


CUAVA is funded by the Australian Research Council. Together with Industry Partners, its mission is to train the next generation of workers in advanced manufacturing, commercial space and unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) applications. In doing so, CUAVA will develop new instruments and technologies to solve critical problems and develop a world-class Australian industry in CubeSats, drones and related products. CUAVA has been in operation since December 2017, with its headquarters at the University of Sydney.

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