Space engineering

Two satellites in space

UNSW Canberra Space research

Harnessing space to address global problems

UNSW Canberra Space research focuses on providing tangible solutions to our needs on Earth. Space mission development, combined with our research efforts into Space Situational Awareness and Artificial Intelligence, enables us to take a leading role in these fields.

Our research priorities

Space-based technologies have an ever-growing presence in our daily lives. UNSW Canberra Space research is aimed at evolving these technologies that are essential in areas such as national security, environmental monitoring, emergency management and secure communications. We are also researching the ethical challenges that global advances in space might create and how we could solve these potential problems.

Space situational awareness

Space Situational Awareness (SSA) is the understanding of the very large number of objects in orbit around the Earth, the complex and dynamic environment that they orbit in, and their interactions with that environment.

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Space ethics

New advances in space technology and science potentially open up whole new worlds for humans to explore. However, not all innovation is positive, and even the development of ‘good’ technologies can have negative outcomes.

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Artificial intelligence for space

The application of Artificial Intelligence to space systems is a growing research strength for UNSW Canberra Space. We focus on the development of miniaturised satellites as edge devices, capable of performing complex tasks and analysis of data on orbit.

The SNAP Laboratory has led Australian research in satellite navigation for more than 20 years.

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Professor Russell Boyce
Director of UNSW Canberra Space

Professor Andrew Dempster
Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER)
T: +61 (0) 2 9385 4208

Competitive advantage

  • Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) receiver design and signal processing capabilities, including:
  • Multi-GNSS receivers
  • Interference and spoofing
  • GNSS remote sensing (reflectometry and radio occultation)
  • Precise positioning algorithms
  • Multi-sensor navigation, and the application of navigation technologies for transport
  • Machine automation and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)
  • Satellite missions


  • Improved precision and robustness of satellite and UAV navigation

Successful applications

  • Synthetic aperture radar formation flying, Australian Space Research Program
  • Unmanned aerial vehicles and their applications
  • Improved detection of interference sources affecting Global Positioning Systems GPS and capability and technology demonstrator (CTD)
  • Mapping radar for CubeSats
  • Successfully commercialised product for geolocating GNSS jammers
  • Company spun off to use reflectometry for sea state, target detection

Capabilities and facilities

  • Hardware and software test facilities, including GNSS simulators and field-programmable gate array (FPGA) development tools
  • GNSS receivers and other navigation sensor technologies
  • Access to a wide variety of UAVs