Australasian Space Consortium Invests in Robotic In-Orbit Satellite Servicing

In an effort to increase Australia’s footprint in the evolving space industry, SmartSat leads a $2.3 million research initiative aimed at advancing In-orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing (ISAM) technologies. This consortium-driven project is set to empower the nation with the expertise required to perform autonomous in-orbit operations involving satellite repairs and maintenance.

The forefront of this groundbreaking research is the University of Sydney, which is pooling resources with industry giants such as Abyss Solutions, ANT61, Space Machines Company, Sperospace, and Spiral Blue. Their collaboration has set the stage for cutting-edge advancements in robotic satellite technologies, which are crucial for in-space repair and maintenance tasks that are becoming increasingly necessary as space traffic grows.

A press statement released by SmartSat outlined the project’s ambitious goal of merging autonomous robotic systems with the exacting needs of space operations that demand real-time reliability and precision. The ISAM initiative deeply integrates various technological domains, ensuring a robust tackle on the complex nature of in-orbit servicing.

The research will delve into AI-based automation for autonomous mission operations, a navigation system resilient to faults for space condition monitoring, and safe satellite control mechanisms during robotic interventions. Furthermore, the initiative seeks to enhance sensing technologies that cater to navigation and detection in the unique lighting conditions of space.

Professor Andy Koronios, CEO of SmartSat CRC, stresses the venture’s importance to Australia’s space industry. The ISAM technologies, he states, are strategically essential for local enterprises looking to insert themselves into the in-orbit servicing supply chain, which is becoming increasingly relevant given the growing number of satellites. Professor Koronios also highlights that this innovation is not only critical for reducing the risk of mishaps and extending satellite lifetimes but also for securing Australia’s competitive edge in the international ISAM market.

Summary: SmartSat, alongside its collaborators, has launched a project to foster advanced robotic satellite technology, which will position Australia as a competitive player in the global space economy. This move emphasizes the country’s commitment to promoting sustainability and safety in space through advanced research in in-orbit satellite servicing.

FAQ Section:

1. What is the goal of the $2.3 million research initiative led by SmartSat?
The initiative aims to advance In-orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing (ISAM) technologies, empowering Australia with the capacity to perform autonomous in-orbit operations such as satellite repairs and maintenance.

2. Which institution is at the forefront of the ISAM research project?
The University of Sydney is leading the research, collaborating with industry partners to develop robotic satellite technologies for in-space repair and maintenance.

3. Who are the industry partners involved in the SmartSat project?
The industry partners include Abyss Solutions, ANT61, Space Machines Company, Sperospace, and Spiral Blue.

4. What key technologies will the research focus on?
The research will focus on AI-based automation for mission operations, fault-resilient navigation systems, safe satellite control during robotic interventions, and enhanced sensing technologies for space conditions.

5. Why are ISAM technologies important for Australia’s space industry?
ISAM technologies are essential for local enterprises to be part of the in-orbit servicing supply chain, for reducing mishaps, extending satellite lifetimes, and securing a competitive edge in the international ISAM market.


In-orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing (ISAM): Technologies and operations that are performed on spacecraft or satellites while they are in orbit. This includes repairs, maintenance, assembly of new structures, and manufacturing of parts.
Autonomous In-orbit Operations: Procedures performed by robotic systems or satellites without human intervention while in space.
Robotic Satellite Technologies: Technologies that enable robots to perform tasks such as repairs and maintenance on satellites in space.
AI-based Automation: The use of artificial intelligence technologies to automate processes or tasks that are typically required to be performed manually or by human intervention.
Fault-Resilient Navigation Systems: Navigation systems that are designed to withstand and operate correctly despite the presence of failures or malfunctions.
Silent Control Mechanisms: Systems or procedures that can control a satellite or a robot without causing disruptions or malfunctions during in-orbit operations.

Related Links:

– To learn more about the Australian space industry’s role in the global context: Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources
– For information on advances in space technology and AI applications in space: Australian Academy of Science
– To explore more about autonomous robotics in space applications: Australian Robotics & Automation Association