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OUR SPACE STATION CONNECTION Featured
03 July 2020 Posted by 

OUR SPACE STATION CONNECTION

Global collaboration driving new technology  
RED DWYER
WESTERN Sydney University and two national air forces are participants in a WSU research project destined to be a “world first” on the International Space Station.
A successful deployment has potential implications for defence, aviation and other specific areas, and commercial applications.
 
Funding from the Royal Australian Air Force with the design and development of the project – as part of its Plan Jericho delivering future technology systems to the air force – and collaboration with the United States Airforce have driven the project.
 
A rough sketch depicting the WSU mobile camera technology has led to state-of-the-art technology expected to be operational on the space vehicle in early 2021
 
The technology is an Australian-based innovation. WSU is leading the world and delivering a game-changing capability to Australia, according to its website.
 
The hardware is being assembled and tested in parallel at the university’s Werrington campus and at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado, with data beamed down to the International Centre for Neuromorphic Systems (ICNS) at WSU. 
 
The ICNS in partnership with the United States Air Force Academy will deploy the ground-breaking technology to investigate recently discovered atmospheric phenomena which impact communications systems and high-altitude aircraft.
 
By chance WSU Associate Professor Gregory Cohen, lead ICNS researcher, met with US Air Force Academy staff and was asked to explain his research, in September 2018.
 
“They asked him to impress them and he literally sketched a design on his [aircraft] boarding pass and (they) asked ‘can you have it ready in February?’,” Lincoln Parker wrote in Australia Defence Magazine.
 
“We took it from a sketch on my boarding pass in September to an actual physical container with a telescope with an operational device in February that year and then it was deployed to Woomera for testing in March [2019],” Professor Gregory Cohen said in the article.
 
From a sketch
 
“It was an enormous amount of work but we literally went from a sketch to a capability in a matter of months.”
 
The Astrosite project includes two cameras and a payload which will be attached to the side of the International Space Station.
 
“The project is just one of many applications of neuromorphic systems: the university is working with government, big-tech partners and local businesses to use this platform to solve real-world challenges and create new industry,” said Professor Sweeney. Professor Deborah Sweeney, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Enterprise & International, in Manufacturers’ Monthly.
 
Stuart Ayres, Minister for Western Sydney, said WSU’s partnership with the US Air Force Academy was a “huge” vote of confidence for the region and put Western Sydney on the global map.
 
In discussing the evolution WSU’s initial research to the Astrosite program and now to the International Space Station, Professor Hugh Durrant-Whyte, NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer had high praise.
 
“Developing, deploying and operating world-first sensors on the International Space Station in a collaborative project with the US Air Force Academy is an outstanding accomplishment,” he said. 
 
The ICNS has strong and ongoing partnerships with the Royal Australian Airforce and the Australian Defence Innovation Hub. 
 
The technology raises the profile of the potential of the aerospace and defence precinct adjacent to Western Sydney Airport, which will focus on building and accessing global supply chains within the aviation, space and defence industries.


editor

Publisher and editor, Michael Walls.
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