SmartSat CRC and NASA Collaborate on Astronaut Emergency Communications - Australian Defense Magazine

SmartSat CRC and NASA Collaborate on Astronaut Emergency Communications – Australian Defense Magazine

The Adelaide-based space industry research center SmartSat Cooperative Research Center has announced a project agreement to advance new Search and Rescue (SAR) beacon technologies with partner NASA.

The technology is being developed with the goal of supporting the safety of astronauts on the moon as part of the Artemis program.

Australia and the United States have a long history of cooperation in search and rescue. In 2020, NASA and SmartSat announced a collaboration to advance satellite-based emergency communications and search and rescue, combining communications and navigation technology. This new project aims to deepen strategic cooperation in this area.

The project is investigating a new search and rescue system for future human exploration on the lunar surface, known as LunaSAR. Astronaut safety is paramount, and the ability to reliably report an emergency must be maintained even when other services are unavailable. According to SmartSat CRC, this system will provide miniature, low-power beacons mounted on space suits and lunar rover vehicles, similar to emergency beacons on Earth. The technology will support SOS and two-way messaging via a lunar orbiting satellite constellation. It also allows the beacon location to be accurately determined in the absence of GPS. This information is made available to both the Mission Control Center on Earth and the response team on the Moon, who can take immediate action.

Under the agreement, NASA’s Search and Rescue Laboratory (SARLab) at the agency’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will bring experts to the project to help guide and review engineering direction. NASA will also provide access to test facilities to evaluate the new technology’s performance as it is developed by a SmartSat-funded research team led by industry partner Safety from Space. The research team will design a new specialized beacon for extraterrestrial environments based on a new waveform. In addition to direct Artemis applications, they will also explore the potential for enhanced services extending beyond SAR to broader emergency management such as natural disaster warning systems.

“NASA is excited to advance technology in this area that will allow our astronauts to explore the moon knowing they have a system focused solely on their safety,” said Dr. Lisa Mazzuca, director of NASA’s search and rescue office, on a visit to Adelaide “This is pioneering work that requires such a dedicated international partnership to bear fruit.”

The SAR team of Dr. Mazzuca also has endorsement and sponsorship of the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) program at NASA Headquarters in Washington through James J. Miller, associate director of policy and strategic communications at SCaN.

“Australia is a unique location with many skilled and talented technologists able to make important contributions to protecting astronauts as a full international partner. We are proud to work with such like-minded experts to ensure the safety of our future astronaut corps.”

while dr Mazzuca in Adelaide, SmartSat met with a range of space industry organizations and rescue service representatives to discuss applications for search and rescue beacon technology in both terrestrial and space environments.

“Not only is this agreement a fantastic development for Safety from Space’s low-power, high-efficiency safety technology, it also signals that the Australian space sector is developing important technologies on a global scale,” commented SmartSat CEO Andy Koronios. “NASA has been instrumental in the development journey for this essential safety technology – and while it is still in its early stages, we now see the further potential of this Australian-developed technology, which will play an important role in lunar and Mars exploration missions as part of the.” Artemis program plays.

“Having received NASA’s support in modernizing our second-generation beacon for use on Earth, we are excited to enter an exciting new phase in our development,” commented Dr. Mark Rice, co-founder of Safety from Space. “This agreement will open up exciting new possibilities for our technology for users, including emergency management professionals and first responders, and help us develop critical safety precautions for astronauts on space missions.”

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