The centrepiece of UNSW Canberra Space is Australia’s first space mission concurrent engineering design facility. Fitted with 16 workstations and purpose-built engineering software, the ANCDF accelerates and improves mission design by enabling each member of the team, together with the customer or end user, to contribute their part to the project in parallel, significantly speeding up the design process. This allows engineers and scientists to rapidly determine the technical and economic viability of proposed space missions, not just for our team but for the Australian space sector. 

The ANCDF was developed based on firsthand experience in similar facilities in the European space industry. Designed to specifically support the Australian space sector, the ANCDF puts an emphasis on customer integration, with implementation cost and schedule forming an integral part of the technical design. 

The world-class facility is jointly funded by UNSW Canberra and the ACT Government and supported through a partnership with the French Space Agency, CNES, whose concurrent engineering software suite forms the basis of our capability.


"I think both the ANCDF and the Bureau learnt a great deal from this Pre-Phase A Mission Study. I hope the report will benefit future […] mission studies and look forward to it being published online very soon."

Helen Beggs, SAR study, Bureau of Meteorology

"Your team is very impressive. If you can continue to build their experience, you will have a great reputation, I am sure."

Fiona Smith, Microwave Sounder Mission study, Bureau of Meteorology

"I'm really impressed with the quality of the discussions at the ANCDF this week, you've assembled a great team!"

Agnes Lane, Satellite Earth Observations Planning and Coordination, Bureau of Meteorology

"A belated thank you for an energising week in the ANCDF. […] The week certainly highlighted the critical aspects of the mission and what some of the key challenges of the mission going forward will be." 

Caroline Poulsen, Lightning Detector study, Bureau of Meteorology

“Throughout the week, I felt everything exceeded expectations. Everyone we interacted with was very competent, helpful and friendly.”

Anonymous survey respondent, Microwave Radiometer Study, University of Otago 

“Very good hosting of us, very inviting and friendly. Great people with good insights and a very good learning experience. [...] The resulting report will be highly useful in getting funding for the next round.”

Harald Schwefel, Microwave Radiometer study, University of Otago

"It's very exciting to have this report out! It is a very valuable and informative document pivotal to moving ahead with this mission. Thanks to all the great work from your team on this ANCDF study."

Marta Yebra, OzFuel study, Australian National University

ANCDF in education

UNSW Canberra Space is making use of the ANCDF's unique features to enhance its teaching at multiple levels:

Master's students

  • Satellite engineering courses
  • Visualisation support for other courses
  • Systems engineering
  • Internships and final/honours theses

Undergraduate students

  • Mission design workshop (see video)
  • Final year projects
  • Internships

High school

  • Simplified mission design workshop
  • Internships

Research including the ANCDF

Concurrent engineering is well established in the space industry. However, there are still research areas to be explored. With the ANCDF, UNSW Canberra Space is looking to perform research in the following areas:

Concurrent Engineering

  • Advanced model-based programmatics
  • Introduction of ethics as additional expert domain

Capability modelling

  • Mission trade-space analysis and pareto-optimum identification
  • Risk impact analysis
  • Engineering education research

Social psychology

  • Which environment will best breed disruptive ideas?

Studies performed in the ANCDF

No. Customer Title Comment
1 AYAA Space mission design experience UG student activity
2 Internal Tutorial and M2 exercise Team training
3 Space Squad Space mission design experience STEM outreach activity
4 YoWIE Space mission design experience STEM outreach activity
5 YoWIE Space mission design experience STEM outreach activity
6 Internal Lamanon mission concept study  
7 ANU InSpace Optical Ground Station Network  
8 Office of National Intelligence NICSAT mission concept study  
9 University of Auckland Radar Nanosatellite mission feasibility study Article
10 CSIRO, SmartSat CRC AquaWatch Phase 0 - mission architecture Article
11 Trillium Australia Bushfire command and control system Non-space topic
12 Geoscience Australia, Australian Space Agency, CSIRO Satellite Cross-Calibration Radiometer (SCR) study


Technical Feasibility Assessment

Pre-Phase A Study Report

13 Bureau of Meteorology Meteorological Instruments Report | Article
14 CSIRO, SmartSat CRC AquaWatch Phase 0 - mission architecture (part 2) Report | Article
15 ANU inSpace, SmartSat CRC OzFuel Phase A Study Report:
Space-based Australian Forest Fuel Flammability Monitoring