A unique high-tech testing facility for space technology was opened on August 15, 2023 by the Deputy Head of the Australian Space Agency, Dara Williams.
The new facility is the 11th beamline at the ANU Heavy Ion Accelerator Facility (HIAF), and harnesses particles accelerated to up to 20 percent of the speed of light to bombard electronic components bound for space to ensure their robustness.
A capability that has been missing from Australian soil, the space irradiation testing beamline is the newest addition to the National Space Qualification Network (NSQN), complementing the existing environmental testing facilities at Mt Stromlo, and the capabilities of other NSQN partners.
NSQN, coordinated through ANU InSpace, was established through a $2.5M space infrastructure grant from the Australian Space Agency.
“The cutting-edge Space Irradiation Beamline will further cement Australia as a global partner in space,” Ms Williams said.
“This critical space infrastructure will make it easier and more cost-effective for Australian technology to be qualified for space – allowing our industry to keep innovating at pace and to get more Aussie-made tech into orbit.”
“The Australian Space Agency is proud to have supported the establishment of the National Space Qualification Network.”
The beamline, funded by the Australian Space Agency, enables technology to be tested under exposure to high energy particle radiation that simulates the environment in space. Flexible mounting enables components to be rotated and scanned in a wide beam to fully simulate space radiation.
Prior to the creation of this facility, users had to go to Europe and United States where facilities are already massively oversubscribed. ANU is now experiencing increased interest from international users seeking more timely radiation testing.
Partners and users from Industry, University and Research institutions are already looking to utilise the facilities, including from CSIRO, DSTG, AICRAFT, RocketLab, Swinburne and Curtin Universities.
It is an added dimension for HIAF, whose combination of world-class facilities and highly trained research and technical staff already draws researchers from around the globe to carry out experiments on astronomy, environmental, medical, materials, nuclear and quantum physics, said HIAF Scientific Director Professor Mahananda Dasgupta.
“HIAF is a $100M facility and the highest energy ion accelerator in Australia. Together with our partners in the newly-formed NSQN, we will act as a springboard to propel the Australian space industry to the next level."
"The long-term partnership between ANU and the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) has ensured that HIAF is a state-of-the-art facility that can be leveraged quickly for the burgeoning Australian space industry.
"It expands on HIAF’s five-decade strong track record of enabling globally recognised top-tier discoveries in fundamental nuclear physics."
About Heavy Ion Accelerators (HIA)
HIA is a network of world-class particle accelerators funded by the Australian Government under the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). With accelerators in the ACT and Victoria, HIA supports frontier research into quantum technologies, climate and environment, fundamental science including dark matter and astrophysics, cancer therapies, space science and defence, and provides unique infrastructure to support hands-on training in nuclear science and research.
HIA is internationally-renowned and attracts users from all over the world to its facilities, bringing the world’s best expertise onshore for the benefit of all Australians. See https://accelerators.org.au for more details.