What is the Space Payload Qualification Facilities?

The Space Payload Qualification Facilities grant is an initiative that provides funding to an Australian company or research institution for the development of space payload qualification facilities to meet the needs of the Australian space industry.

 

Background

In 2020 the Australian Space Agency commissioned a national audit of Australian space payload qualification capability. This audit set out to quantify and qualify the current availability of space testing facilities in the country. Appendix A: National Payload Qualification Facility Audit contains the results of this audit, including an annex which lists in detail the facilities, type and location, identified during the audit. This report is included to ensure all applicants have the same access to background information.

Figure 1: Space Payload Qualification Facilities Classifications illustrates the three levels of testing capability identified in the audit report, and how each level of testing contributes to the assurance of space payloads during space flight. Level 1 covers the mandatory testing required for launch and on-orbit “switch on”. Levels 2 and 3 cover more sophisticated tests which lead to greater mission assurance.

The Space Payload Qualification Facilities grant opportunity will provide a single grant to build niche Level 2 or Level 3 capability. Through this investment, the project may also complement Level 1 facilities across Australia. We expect the capability developed to be self-sustaining after the grant period.

 

Objectives

The objectives of the Space Payload Qualification Facilities grant opportunity are to:

  • increase space qualification capability and capacity in Australia
  • improve the availability and coordination of space payload qualification in Australia
  • increase accreditation and international recognition of space payload qualification in Australia
  • meet the needs of the emerging space sector into the future.

The intended outcomes of the grant opportunity are:

  • increased space payload qualification capability and capacity in Australia
  • increased availability of space payload qualification facilities
  • increased investment in Australian space industry
  • increased Australian space industry capability.

 

Funding

The Australian Government has announced a total of $19.5 million over three years for the Space Infrastructure Program. Up to $2.5 million is available for this grant opportunity.

 

Eligible Projects

The space payload qualification facility must be capable of supporting the following activities:

  • building niche or unique Level 2 or Level 3 qualification capability and capacity in Australia
  • support, cooperation and/or coordination across space payload qualification facilities and capabilities in Australia
  • support that expands Australian space industry capability and capacity, for example:
    • research and development (R&D)
    • training
    • testing and validation
    • collaborative R&D.

Eligible activities may include:

  • purchasing, upgrading and commissioning testing equipment
  • marketing and communications activities to improve knowledge of and access to testing facilities by SMEs and researchers
  • support the coordination across testing facilities across Australia
  • preparing a functional design brief or equivalent
  • purchasing hardware (screens, cables, furniture, antennas, fibre optic links, other ICT etc.) and software to run the required qualification tests
  • hiring appropriate staff and contractors to fit-out and operate the facility
  • managing the security requirements for the centre, including its public elements
  • operating, managing and controlling the centre for the grant funding period
  • establishing a financially self-sustaining operating model
  • organising and managing training activities in conjunction with universities/schools.

Eligible expenditure items are:

  • direct labour costs of employees you directly employ on the core elements of the project. We consider a person an employee when you pay them a regular salary or wage, out of which you make regular tax instalment deductions
  • up to 30% labour on-costs to cover employer paid superannuation, payroll tax, workers compensation insurance, and overheads such as office rent and the provision of computers for staff directly working on the project
  • contract expenditure, which is the cost of any agreed project activities that you contract to others
  • capital expenditure for the purchase of assets directly related to the project
  • building modifications, where the modification is necessary to undertake the project
  • installation and commissioning costs
  • marketing and communication costs
  • staff training that directly supports the achievement of project outcomes
  • domestic and overseas travel limited to the reasonable cost of accommodation and transportation required to conduct the agreed project and collaboration activities
  • the cost of an independent audit of project expenditure up to a maximum of 1% of total eligible project expenditure. Projects with a total value over $500,000 (excluding GST) will be required to complete an independent audit
  • other eligible expenditure as approved by the program delegate (who is an AusIndustry manager within the department with responsibility for the program).

 

Eligible Applicants

To be eligible you must be 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; or
    • are a substantial and not merely peripheral activity of the corporation
  • a publicly funded research organisation (PFRO).

Joint applications are acceptable and encouraged, provided you have a lead organisation who is the main driver of the project and is eligible to apply.

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