Moon to Mars Initiative Trailblazer Program

What is the Moon to Mars Initiative Trailblazer Program?

The Moon to Mars Initiative Trailblazer Program is a grant opportunity to leverage and diversify Australia’s world leading remote operations skills and experience by developing new foundation services capabilities, encouraging investment and opportunities in the Australian space sector.



The $150 million Australian Moon to Mars Initiative (the initiative) supports Australian businesses and researchers to join NASA’s inspirational endeavour to go forward to the Moon and then go on to Mars. Investment focuses in Australia over a five-year period, commencing in 2020-21.

The initiative forms an important element of the Advancing Space: Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-2028. It primarily addresses the National and International pillars:

  • to open doors for Australian businesses and researchers to access international space supply chains
  • create jobs in Australia
  • support the growth of industries across the economy through the development and application of space technologies.

Through this, Australian organisations will join with NASA and other international partners to bring Australian capabilities to space, the Moon, Mars and beyond.



The objectives of the Trailblazer program are:

  • develop foundation services rover solutions, capable of collecting lunar regolith and delivering it to a NASA science in-situ resource utilisation (ISRU) facility
  • demonstrate the ability for Australian capability to support international missions
  • inspire the Australian public
  • an Australian asset will have been operated on the Moon
  • improved collaboration with international space agencies including NASA
  • stimulated investment in the foundation services capability
  • key technologies are spun out to develop other sectors of the Australian economy
  • growth in Australian space capability
  • increased interest in STEM and related highly skilled careers
  • galvanisation of national pride in Australia’s space activities
  • increased community engagement in space activities.



Trailblazer Stage 1 is an open competitive grant opportunity providing up to $4 million for up to two successful applicants to develop foundation services rover solutions through early mission phases to Preliminary Design Review (PDR). Your contribution must be cash (not in-kind).


Eligible Projects

To be eligible your Trailblazer Stage 1 project must:

  • be aimed towards early development and planning of the primary task. The primary task is acquiring, transferring and delivering lunar regolith from the lunar surface to the NASA’s ISRU facility for scientific purposes. This task is to be repeatable and provide higher levels of reliable autonomy through the task’s operational phases in order to demonstrate Australia’s foundation services. Any secondary objectives should not jeopardise or dominate the primary objectives/task of the mission.
  • support Australia’s ambitions to join NASA’s endeavour to go forward to the Moon and then go on to Mars

Eligible activities must include:

  • leading the integrated NASA-Australian Space Agency operational, safety and mission assurance reviews including a Mission Concept Review (MCR), System Requirements Review (SRR) and Preliminary Design Review (PDR)
  • establishing, in consultation with the Agency and NASA, a joint program plan to include critical milestones and operational integration of the foundation services rover with the ISRU Facility
  • designing and planning all activities over the spacecraft mission phases (phases A to F). Activities over mission phases including:
    • designing, developing, manufacturing, assembling, testing and operating the foundation services rover and lander deployment system, in accordance with the
      mission requirements stated in Appendix C and Appendix D of the guidelines
    • any development models (including prototypes, engineering models, proto-flight and flight models) and ground support systems
  • design, develop and build a functioning rover prototype that mitigates program risk
  • ensuring the quality of your products and services meet the standards necessary to achieve the objectives and mission requirements
  • ongoing risk assessment, including national security, licencing, and regulatory, cyber, safety and other risks
  • establishing and refining requirements for the foundation services rover’s regolith delivery system to be compatible with the ISRU Facility’s ability to receive regolith, and to support sunlit operations at a lunar polar location
  • establishing and refining requirements for the foundations services rover, compatible with all other mission interfaces, including environmental requirements
  • providing the Agency and NASA the program, system requirements, technical interface, systems design and systems operations information necessary for assessing the impact of the foundation services rover to the ISRU facility and developing selection criteria for the delivery lander
  • involvement of the Agency and NASA in foundation services rover reviews as they pertain to its compatibility and interoperability with the ISRU facility
  • establishing a review panel for system level reviews
  • designing and developing your foundation services rover’s regolith delivery system to be compatible with the ISRU Facility’s ability to receive regolith, and to support sunlit operations at a lunar polar location
  • conducting promotional and media activities including organising and hosting key mission events


Eligible Applicants

You can apply if you meet the eligibility criteria. The eligibility criteria are a set of rules that describe who we can consider for this grant. You can apply if you:

  • are an eligible entity
  • have an eligible project
  • have eligible expenditure.

The rules are in the grant opportunity guidelines.

You can apply if you have an Australian business number (ABN) and are one of the following entities:

  • an entity incorporated in Australia and a trading corporation, where your trading activities:
    • form a sufficiently significant proportion of the corporation’s overall activities as to merit it being described as a trading corporation
    • are a substantial and not merely peripheral activity of the corporation.
  • a Publicly Funded Research Organisation (PFRO) as defined in the grant opportunity guidelines.

If you are applying as a PFRO, your application must be a joint application including at least one eligible Australian trading corporation. Joint applications are acceptable, provided you have a lead organisation who is the main driver of the project and is eligible to apply.

The program can only accept applications where you:

  • provide all mandatory attachments including your proposal and your project budget
  • you provide evidence from your board, CEO or equivalent that the project is supported, that you can complete the project and meet the costs of the project not covered by Trailblazer Stage 1 grant funding, and confirms you are a trading corporation where applicable.



Applications close 28 February 2022. 


More Information


Latest News

8 December 2021 – $4 M is available to design and Australian lunar rover

Grant applications opened on Tuesday for Stage one of the Trailblazer program, which will select as many as two consortia and provide up to $4 million in funding for development of a lunar rover.

Trailblazer is part of the federal government’s Moon to Mars initiative. It is hoped an Australian-made rover will join NASA on a mission to the moon, as early as 2026, where it will help collect lunar soil samples.



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