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On International Day of Human Space Flight – an annual celebration of the beginning of the space era for mankind that’s designed to reaffirm the important contribution of space science and technology in today’s world – UNSW Engineering is looking at some of its own space-related research highlights.

Whether it's finding ways to mine water on the moon or developing space cells with the highest efficiencies, researchers from UNSW Engineering are harnessing new technologies to help build Australia’s space future. Our student-led projects, such as BlueSAT and American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA Rocketry), are also providing students with real-world experience in multi-disciplinary space engineering projects to continue to promote space technology in Australia.

Here are a few highlights of how UNSW Engineering research is innovating both on Earth and in space.

Mining water on the Moon


Image: Shutterstock

A team of UNSW Engineers have put together a multi-university, agency and industry project team to investigate the possibilities of mining water on the moon to produce rocket fuel.

Find out more.

Satellite solar technology comes down to Earth


Solar cells used in space are achieving higher efficiencies than those used at ground level, and now there are ways to have them working on Earth without breaking the bank.

Researchers from the School of Photovoltaics Renewable Energy Engineering are no strangers to setting new records for solar cell efficiency levels but Associate Professor Ned Ekins-Daukes has made it his mission to develop space cells with the highest efficiencies at the lowest weight. 

Find out more.

Students shine in off-world robotics competition


UNSW’s Off-World Robotics team – part of the long-running BLUEsat student-led project – achieved their best placing in the competition to date.

A team of eight UNSW Engineering students came eighth in the European Rover Challenge (ERC) in Poland, one of the world’s biggest international space and robotics events, defeating 57 teams from around the globe.

Find out more.

Exploring a little-understood region above Earth


Associate Professor Elias Aboutanios with UNSW-Ec0. Photo:Grant Turner

UNSW-EC0, a CubeSat built by a team led by Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research (ACSER) deputy director Associate Professor Elias Aboutanios, is studying the atomic composition of the thermosphere using an on-board ion neutral mass spectrometer.

Find out more.

Rocketing into an internship


Third-year Aerospace Engineering student, Sam Wilkinson, scored an internship at Rocket Lab in New Zealand.

Third-year Aerospace Engineering student, Sam Wilkinson, describes how he landed an internship at an international aerospace company, which works with organisations such as NASA, without going through the usual application process.

Find out more.