CUAVA satellite superimposed on Earth from orbit.

CUAVA training centre wins NSW funding for space industry pilot

25 May 2021
ARC centre joins with NSW Government to launch 'Waratah Seed'
Led by Professor Iver Cairns from Physics, CUAVA wins state government funding for NSW space qualification program, with project named 'Waratah Seed'.
CUAVA director Professor Iver Cairns launching the centre in 2019.

CUAVA director Professor Iver Cairns launching the centre in 2019.

The Australian Research Council Training Centre for CubeSats, UAVs, and their Applications (CUAVA) has been chosen to lead the pilot Space Qualification Mission by the NSW Government. The mission will launch NSW-developed space technology payloads into orbit to demonstrate their operation in space and test their commercial plans and services.

Code-named ‘Waratah Seed’, the project consortium will be led by CUAVA Director Professor Iver Cairns from the University of Sydney and will include ACSER at the University of NSW, Saber Astronautics, Delta-V, Macquarie University, and the University of Technology Sydney.

Project Waratah Seed will develop, build, and launch a satellite carrying payloads developed by NSW space businesses and start-ups.

NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said the Space Qualification Mission program would tackle one of the biggest hurdles for space sector businesses, being able to prove their technology works in space.

“NSW is home to almost half of Australia’s space-related businesses and generates around half of all space-related revenue nationally – there is no better place to support space technology research and development to the create jobs of the future," Mr Ayres said.

"CUAVA is leading the way in developing the space technology of the future and training the people that will use it. They are an outstanding choice to take charge of this mission."

CUAVA Director Professor Cairns said: “Waratah Seed represents a bold new approach to develop the space industry in NSW. It combines a selection competition for payloads from NSW space industry groups with payloads from a commercial client program, both of them firsts. We will engage with the public, space industry companies and other payload groups across the state, not just in Sydney, to deliver the project and help build a vibrant NSW space industry.”

CUAVA, based at the University of Sydney, is working to enhance and innovate the applications of CubeSats, a new class of small satellites, and uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs), for Earth observations, GPS, satellite communications and space weather purposes.

Before starting the Waratah Seed project, CUAVA will launch its satellite, CUAVA-1, from Cape Canaveral in August 2021. It will be the first satellite designed, developed, and launched by the Training Centre. CUAVA-1 will fly first-generation experimental payloads developed by students and other researchers at CUAVA’s partner institutions.


CUAVA is funded by the Australian Research Council. Working with Industry Partners its mission is to train the next generation of workers in advanced manufacturing, commercial space, and uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) applications. In doing so CUAVA will develop new instruments and technology to solve crucial problems, and develop a world-class Australian industry in CubeSats, UAVs, and related products. CUAVA has been in operation since December 2017, with headquarters at the University of Sydney.


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