Moon to Mars Initiative

Moon to Mars Initiative

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What is the Moon to Mars Initiative?

The Moon to Mars Initiative is a $150 million investment to grow the space industry. Through this initiative, Australia has the opportunity to showcase our knowledge and capabilities in projects that can support NASA.  



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 initiative are to:

  • support Australia’s ambitions to join NASA’s endeavour to go forward to the Moon and then go on to Mars
  • accelerate the growth of the Australian space industry
  • build Australian space capability and capacity
  • lift Australian involvement in national and international supply chains
  • inspire the Australian public.

The intended outcomes of the initiative are:

  • Australian involvement in international space programs and missions that support Moon to Mars activities
  • increased growth of Australian space businesses
  • an increase in Australia’s space capability
  • increased exports
  • increased access to national and international supply chains
  • strengthened relationships between international agencies and the Australian Space Agency
  • increased employment in STEM related and highly skilled fields
  • increased community engagement in space activities.

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Moon to Mars Initiative

Funding Programs

The initiative includes three investment programs.

Supply Chain Program

This program draws on Australia’s competitive strengths. It builds capability and helps a variety of industries deliver products and services into global space supply chains.

This can include backing businesses to:

  • develop a product from an adjacent industry, such as manufacturing and resources, to support the space sector
  • improve or qualify an existing product to meet a supplier standard for an international space company 
  • buy, lease, construct, install or commission equipment, including specialist software

Demonstrator Program

This program supports Australian businesses and researchers to develop and launch space products or projects. By doing so, it will showcase our space strengths to the world.

This can include backing products or projects focused on the following:

  • robotics and automation
  • satellite communications
  • remote medicine applications
  • propulsion technology 

Trailblazer Program

This is the signature program of the initiative. It will see Australia play a direct role in NASA’s mission to go to the Moon and on to Mars.

This can include investing in and applying Australian capability for the mission across the following areas:

  • autonomous systems such as a rover
  • next generation communications
  • componentry for a lunar probe or vehicle
  • scientific research expertise in minerals


More Information

Latest News

Ten projects are set to share nearly $40 million from the Moon to Mars initiative’s Demonstrator Program. This funding will aid companies in preparing their technologies for space and benefit various other industries as well. Enrico Palermo, the head of the Australian Space Agency, noted that these investments will position Australian space companies to partake in global space missions. The projects are expected to have a significant impact, including on NASA’s Artemis Program, and will develop expertise in launching missions and operating in space. These projects span critical technology fields, from addressing climate change to enhancing sectors like agriculture, resources, transport, and defense.

Among the successful projects are:

  • $4.4 million to WA-based International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research to build a next-generation communications network that can send data to and from objects in space, such as satellites and spacecraft, at a significantly faster rate than current technology.
  • $5.2 million for NSW-based Advanced Navigation to demonstrate the performance of its next-generation light detection altimetry and velocimetry (LiDAV) technology. This technology details a vehicle’s environment and will go to the Moon on Intuitive Machines’ Nova-C lunar lander. 
  • $3.7 million to SA-based QuantX Labs to develop and demonstrate quantum tech–enabled precision timing reference instruments that can improve the accuracy of positioning systems such as GPS and improve productivity in critical sectors like agriculture and resources.
  • $6.2 million to ACT-based Australian National University for an innovative laser technology instrument to support NASA with space-based sensing of Earth’s gravity variations, which will advance earth science to support understanding and combat the effect of climate change.


Brisbane start-up company Valiant Space is sending locally-made components into orbit, onboard SpaceX, from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral.

The company has been supported by the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Hub, which is funded by the Queensland Government, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Urban Arts Project and the Innovation Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC).

The Queensland Government-funded ARM Hub, at Northgate, helped the company get off the ground. It’s Australia’s first in-space chemical thruster for satellites made with non-toxic propellants.



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