LeoLabs Australia announces Aussie Space Radar Project

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LeoLabs Australia announces Aussie Space Radar Project

The Aussie Space Radar Project (ASRP) is a A$240M international collaboration between Australia and the United States, with A$160M of direct investment by LeoLabs Incorporated (U.S.) and partners in Australia’s space and manufacturing industries. This would be the largest investment by a foreign company into Australia’s space industry in decades and is a truly transformational project for Australia’s space, electronics manufacturing and defence sectors.

Under the ASRP, LeoLabs Australia – in collaboration with three leading Australian electronics manufacturers (Lintek, SRX and Ampcontrol Australia) – will manufacture and license LeoLabs’ next-generation modular space radar system in Australia for export to the world. LeoLabs Australia, should it be successful under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative, will build LeoLabs’ first next-generation Low Earth Orbit (LEO) modular space radar in the Northern Territory; and then build the world’s first commercial Deep Space Radar in northern Western Australia, creating a pipeline of lasting Indigenous jobs.

This technology is strategically vital to Australia’s and its allies’ national security and will provide a sovereign space surveillance capability for government and commercial enterprises that can track every object in every orbit in real-time in Australia’s sphere of interest. The ASRP would be a long-term commitment to Australia should the grant application be successful and will position Australia as a space surveillance superpower and the sole global provider of LeoLabs Inc’s proprietary high-tech modular radar system.

Over the next ten years, LeoLabs Australia plans to manufacture its modular radars across regional New South Wales and Victoria, creating over 200 highly skilled jobs and export sales valued at over A$400M. Overall this project has the potential to enhance Australia’s sovereign space surveillance capability and enable Australian space operators to keep space safe, secure and sustainable.

“We are incredibly proud to bring this world leading technology to Australia” said LeoLabs Australia Managing Director Terry van Haren “It shows tremendous confidence in our Australian manufacturing partners, whilst also being a transformational project for the Australian Space Industry,”

“This is a multi-year manufacturing commitment in Australia, with ongoing manufacturing and exports valued in excess of A$400M. We believe it will be foundational to the growth of the manufacturing, space and defence industries here in Australia.”

James Brown, CEO, Space Industry Association of Australia noted “We’re excited to see LeoLabs Australia make a commitment to increase Australia’s space situational awareness capabilities.

“This proposal and this level of funding is significant and would dramatically increase Australia’s ability to be a player in the global space situational awareness market and contribute to the important task of space traffic management. We’re particularly delighted to see them contributing to the development of space infrastructure in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.”

Aussie Space Radar Project Overview
Newcastle, Australia. 10 November 2021: LeoLabs Australia, in collaboration with three of Australia’s leading electronics manufacturing firms, Lintek, SRX Global, Ampcontrol, and in partnership with the University of Newcastle, has submitted an expression of interest to licence, manufacture and build LeoLabs’ next generation phased array modular space radar systems in Australia under the Federal Government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI). The Aussie Space Radar Project (ASRP) comes on the back of LeoLabs Australia’s recent announcement to construct the West Australia Space Radar and demonstrates LeoLabs’ long-term commitment to Australia.

The ASRP will comprise an estimated total investment of A$240M over three years, including a direct A$160M investment by LeoLabs Inc and partners. LeoLabs Australia is seeking support under the Modern Manufacturing Initiative to fund the remainder of this project.

If LeoLabs is successful in its funding application, the ASRP will be the largest investment by a foreign company into Australia’s space industry in decades, both in licensing and production as well as investment. The ASRP will be a truly transformational project for Australia’s sovereign space surveillance capabilities, and will strategically position Australia in the global RF electronics manufacturing and data services supply chain.

Under this program two highly innovative modular space radars will be installed in northern Australia, should LeoLabs be successful with its MMI grant application. These include:

(a) LeoLabs’ next-generation LEO s-band phased array space radar system in the Northern Territory, known as the North Australian Space Radar (NASR) and;

(b) The world’s first commercial deep space radar in north western Australia.

The ASRP represents a one-of-a-kind technology transfer, available only to Australia. It will enable LeoLabs’ Australia and its partners to manufacture LeoLabs’ entire next-generation global space radar system, making Australia the sole global provider of LeoLabs’ high-tech radar modules to the world. The exquisite, next generation modular radar technology, which has been developed in Silicon Valley, incorporates the latest commercially available 5G systems and truly transforms the way objects are tracked in space.

Over the ten years of the license, ongoing export sales for Australia’s space sector will be valued at over A$60M per year. The impacts will be felt beyond the space sector, with the ASRP setting electronics manufacturers up with exports worth A$400m over 7 years.

Under the Aussie Space Radar Project, A$80M will be invested in modern manufacturing improvements. This will include two new manufacturing facilities in Jerrabomberra and Hunter, New South Wales, and three high capacity advanced electronics production lines including one at SRX in Dandenong, Victoria. The ASRP will also create more than 200 highly skilled jobs with a regional focus in manufacturing and digital space services, and hundreds of indirect jobs through suppliers, site construction and service providers.

Furthermore, LeoLabs has signed an MOU with Gumatj Corporation and the Northern Territory Government to maintain and sustain the first of the two radars on indigenous lands, which will create a pipeline of lasting indigenous jobs.

LeoLabs will amplify opportunities for Australian space, defence and electronics manufacturing industries through projecting Australia as a leader in space situational awareness should it win the MMI grant.

The flow-on effects into the space and manufacturing industries more broadly will create additional revenue of A$1Billion for Australia by 2030. Ultimately, safe, secure and sustainable space operations will propel industry growth, enabling billions in new revenues in adjacent sectors, such as launch, debris management, in-flight services, and more.

The two Australian radars will be located in strategically important locations in the Indo-Pacific region. Amongst other tasks, the NASR will capture ‘medium inclination’ launches out of the Asian continent; and the Deep Space Radar will maintain ‘neighbourhood watch’ in the Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) belt in the Indo Pacific. These radars, along with the recently announced West Australian Space Radar, will keep eyes on the emerging threats in space whilst ensuring space safety and sustainability.

Ultimately, the technology is strategically vital to Australia’s national security. A locally hosted secure data platform is also offered under the MMI grant application and would provide Australia a sovereign space domain surveillance (SDA) capability with national resilience and redundancy.

The aggregate data capture of the two modular space radars built under the ASRP, along with the LeoLabs 1D systems in New Zealand and Western Australia, would provide LeoLabs Australia with more daily measurements of objects in LEO and GEO than the current U.S. Space Surveillance Network. Add to this the autonomous operation of these radars and the cloud based data solutions, and Australia will be in the envious position to search, detect and track every object in every orbit in Australia’s orbital area of interest.

Australian local manufacturing companies supporting the ASRP
Ampcontrol will diversify into Australia’s Space and Defence sectors, occupying a new production facility to build and test radar modules, while also conducting site builds, radar system support and export services. As the ASRP research partner, ResTech will be exposed to complex space surveillance systems and expand its research expertise.

Warwick Sommer, Executive General Manager – Innovation and Service at Ampcontrol and a Director of ResTech said, “With a proud history of manufacturing, innovation and collaboration in regional Australia, Ampcontrol and ResTech are excited to be part of the team collaborating on the Aussie Space Radar Project.”

“For Ampcontrol and ResTech, the collaboration provides us the opportunity to extend our electrical engineering expertise and ingenuity, develop new capabilities in space and defence technology, and construct a new production facility to build and test radar modules.

The MMI project will enable Ampcontrol group of companies to pivot into space manufacturing capability, boosting collaboration, and identifying new opportunities to support new jobs, attract investment, grow local businesses, and build the skills pipeline. We also look forward to the ongoing production beyond the initial project and exporting these systems world wide with the owner/ customer of these radars – LeoLabs Inc.”

Through a partnership with LeoLabs, Lintek will experience a significant increase in capacity for RF Printed Circuit Board production, build a new factory and recapitalize its production lines. As the only onshore RF printed circuit board manufacturer, Lintek has decades of experience supplying printed circuit boards into Defence programs.

Carl Tengstrom, Managing Director of Lintek, adds, “This project would ‘fast track’ Australia’s capacity regarding manufacturing of complex printed circuit boards, required by Defence for current and future programs, including the broader commercial industry requirements as well. Lintek plans to build a new 5000 square metre facility in Jerrabomberra under this proposal and significantly expand our skilled workforce.’

SRX will undergo diversification into radar subsystem assembly, build a new production line to include radar system test and calibration, and in the process increase the capacity of Australia’s Space and Defence industrial capabilities. Lee Stebbing, ANZ Business Development Manager, at SRX, said,

“This project secures highly skilled manufacturing jobs for Victoria. Through the use of exclusive technology not only will this project help build a robust local electronics industry but also position Australian manufacturing as world leading in complex printed circuit board assembly. SRX will modernise our production lines at our Dandenong plant in Victoria, hire additional staff, and extend our skillset to test and calibrate the Aussie radar sub-assemblies in a new anechoic chamber.”

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