A project led by The University of Western Australia in partnership with Fugro Australia and supported by the Australian
Space Agency will expand optical communication technology to support international space exploration missions such as NASA’s artemis program
The Australian optical communications support for NASA Artemis and beyond project, funded by $199,634 via the Australian Space Agency’s Demonstrator program, will seek to establish a new optical
communications ground station in Western Australia to enable more precise and clearer communication between Earth and
Dr Sascha Schediwy from the UWA node of the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR), who has
previously pioneered advanced atmopheric stabilisation technology for free-space optical communication, will play a lead
role in the project.
Dr Schediwy, leader of the ICRAR Astrophotoncs Group and member of the UWA International Space Centre, said that
free-space optical communication would have huge benefits for space exploration.
“During the Apollo era, all communication between Earth and the astronauts in space relied on radio communication, which
given the large distance between Earth and the Moon, led to low data rates and poor transmitted live video quality,” Dr
“Optical communication on the other hand has been shown to support data rates hundreds of times greater than radio
communications, enabling 4K live footage of the next crewed Moon-landing – it’s the communication technology of the
Associate Professor Danail Obreschkow, head of UWA’s International Space Centre, said the project would harness the
expertise and resources of the newly established Centre.
“The International Space Centre launched earlier this year includes more than 12 research nodes, 150 researchers and 20
PhD students who are working on advancements for optical communications and space exploration,” Professor Obreschkow
“The scientists are also working on research to improve our daily lives such as communication technologies, new sources
of energy, medical advances and human resilience working in harsh environments.”
Dr Schediwy was recently awarded Academic of the Year and the overall Excellence award (the top award) at the 2021
Australian Space Awards for his significant contribution to space research.
Furgo General Manager Sam Forbes said Australia’s future was dependent on reliable, fast, high-speed, and secure
communication to advance the next generation of operational technology.
“FugroSpAARC is supporting this significant endeavour to translate innovative research and development that demonstrates
Australia’s competitive advantage and highlights our capabilities in advanced space technologies for the benefit of
future in space operations” Mr Forbes said.