Biarri-Point is a US satellite that, as part of its payload, has GPS technology developed by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney in partnership with Defence Science and Technology (DST) Group.
The Biarri-Point satellite, launched in April 2017 to the International Space Station, was recently deployed from the space station’s Nano Racks into its own orbit, which Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne said signified as a terrific milestone.
Minister Pyne said it carried the Namaru GPS technology, which is the first fully Australian and New Zealand developed global positioning system (GPS) payload for a cube-satellite.
"The Namuru GPS technology is on-orbit and is successfully functioning correctly providing significant research benefits," said Minister Pyne.
"It is conducting a range of experiments aimed at increasing our understanding of outer atmospheric effects on small satellites and improving our situational awareness of space."
The GPS payload was developed by UNSW in Sydney and the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research, and the mission integration was organised by DST Group.
Minister Pyne said the successful on-orbit operation of the miniaturised GPS marks another point on Australia’s path of technological innovation in the growing space industry.
"The research and development program will help support industry jobs around the nation and in universities," the minister said.
"The 2016 Defence White Paper highlights the importance of space-based systems for information gathering, communications, navigation and surveillance for all ADF and coalition operations.
"Advances in small, low-cost space platforms provide a unique opportunity to support Australian Defence Force capabilities and to rejuvenate Australian space research."
This satellite milestone follows the Turnbull government's recently announced review of Australia’s space industry capability, which the government hopes will lead to a national strategy for the sector that reflects Australia’s national interests over the next decade, and align with Australian government priorities, including Defence.
"The government’s $1.6 billion investment in defence industry and innovation programs over the next decade will ensure that we invest in the industry we need to support our defence capability requirements and transition world leading Australian research, development and innovation into practical defence capability," Minister Pyne said.
That move has been criticised by the South Australia government, which has said it will push ahead with plans for its own local space industry because of federal government inaction.
"The Commonwealth government is moving too slowly to establish a national space agency," said SA's Minister for Defence Industries Martin Hamilton-Smith.
"The Coalition is moving at a snail’s pace. At this rate we’ll get to the moon one million years from now."