Published 25-03-2021
| Article appears in April 2021 Issue

First Moon to Mars grants awarded to 3 NSW businesses


Three companies from NSW are the first recipients of the Australian Government’s Moon to Mars Supply Chain Capability Improvement grants.

Spiral Blue has received $416,250 to develop Space Edge software for use aboard Earth observation satellites to enable data processing on-board the satellite. 

Earth observation images are used in many industries, including defence, agriculture, and weather, but require the raw satellite data to be analysed on Earth. These powerful and compact computer systems can deliver a report or set of analytics straight from space to improve speed and affordability.

Advanced Navigation and Q-CTRL, a partnership, have received a grant of $690,892 to develop a world-first inertial navigation system for space missions. Inertial navigation is a critical capability in deep space, lunar or planetary missions, where external navigational beacons such as GPS or even landmarks are not available.

The grants are part of the Government’s $150 million initiative to get more local companies involved in NASA’s Moon to Mars program and create new Australian jobs.

The Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, said: “These grants are about expanding and supporting our domestic capabilities in the space sector, while helping Australian companies be part of NASA’s grand ambition to establish a sustainable presence on the Moon to prepare for missions to Mars.

“Today’s funding announcement showcases two Aussie companies leading the way in space infrastructure and on-board spacecraft navigation. These grants will help boost investment in the manufacturing sector, build Australia’s reputation as a manufacturer of choice, create new skilled Australian jobs and grow our economy.

“As I always say, our Moon to Mars Initiative is not about giving money to NASA – it’s about investing in Australian space capability so that we can leverage NASA’s bold vision to create opportunity and jobs here at home.” 

The head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, said: “The two successful projects showcase the talent and ingenuity in Australia’s space sector and increase the involvement and value add of local technology in national and international space supply chains.

“Congratulations to Spiral Blue and Advanced Navigation and Q-CTRL for leading projects that will contribute to the development of national capability and help to build a high-tech workforce that can make a significant contribution to the national economy, while positioning Australia as a key player in the global space community.” 

The $150 million initiative is part of close to $700 million being invested by the Government into the Australian civil space sector as part of the goal to triple the sector’s size to $12 billion and create up to an extra 20,000 jobs by 2030.

Space is also one of six priority areas in the Government’s $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy.

The Moon to Mars Supply Chain Capability Improvement program offers grants between $250,000 and $1 million, with applications open until 30 June 2023.

To apply for a grant and for more information, visit


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