Lunar Ascent – Australia’s First Mission to the Moon

Australian industry rallies to develop a bold unifying space mission

5 December 2020 sees lift off for an exciting new chapter in the growth of Australia’s space sector with the announcement of Lunar Ascent, Australia’s first mission to the Moon.

Lunar Ascent, an industry-led consortium spearheaded by Space Machines Company and supported by Deloitte, is inviting all companies and related entities in the space industry to join this moon shot – to send the first Australian nanosatellites to orbit around the Moon in 2024 by providing a cost-effective and innovative rideshare opportunity for Australian commercial, scientific and educational payloads to access the moon, using Space Machines Company’s in-space transportation platform.

The consortium is building fast as partners and Lunar rideshare customers express their intent to be involved in this mission, including Saber Astronautics, Inovor Technologies and Sitael Australia. Industry consultation and engagement will continue until late March when the Mission will be officially launched.

The Hon Stuart Ayres, MP, Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, said: “NSW is 100 per cent on board in backing the Lunar Ascent mission. It’s fantastic to see NSW manufacturers like Space Machines Company taking a leadership role in this national endeavour. The sky is no longer the limit for business as manufacturers and supply chain providers look to space as the new frontier for growth and opportunities. So, when you look up, keep an eye out for the Made in NSW stamp.

Lunar Ascent will develop a truly Australian journey to the Moon,” said Rob Hillard, Deloitte Asia Pacific Chief Transformation Officer. “Lunar Ascent promotes and supports the Australian space industry to participate in the space economy through partnership on lunar missions. This is also a mission designed to inspire the nation, to encourage Australians to be bold in pursuing lofty goals and to leave a positive legacy for years to come through the space know-how developed.

By setting a bold, nation-building mission to deliver the first Australian nanosatellites to the orbit around the Moon in 2024, Lunar Ascent will inspire, educate and connect all Australians to space activities, encourage greater STEM education and demonstrate the role Australia can play globally in the new space race, by delivering commercial, scientific and educational payloads in innovative new ways.

This mission adds fuel to the Federal Government’s goals to develop national space sector capability. It will build long term sovereign capability and strategic space assets for generations to come. This is Australia’s time to reach for the stars.

Lunar Ascent will maximise the use of Australian capability and collaborate with international companies to achieve the mission goals, which are:

  • To build a national mission, aligned to industry and government objectives, to put payload of 60kg into useful lunar orbit in 2024
  • To enable a competitive and resilient space supply chain
  • To promote international collaboration and growth
  • To help grow Australian skills and jobs in space sector
  • To inspire and connect the Australian community to Australian space activities.

A public private partnership model is being pursued to fund the mission with a combination of corporate sponsorship, donations, and available government funding for Space and Advanced Manufacturing.

To succeed in such a bold mission, a variety of supply chain participants will be needed, involving mission design services, launch and rocket capability, satellite and long-range transportation spacecraft, mission control and cyber capability, lunar observation, space data capture and analysis, space telecommunications, precise positioning, robotics and education.

Lunar Ascent will use an innovative and cost effective in-space transportation platform being developed by us to deploy nanosatellites in Lunar Orbit. Development of such capability in Australia for the mission will play a critical role in a globally competitive supply chain and skills growth for Australian Space Industry. This mission will demonstrate sovereign capability in building, testing and deploying technology for deep space missions.” – Rajat Kulshrestha, CEO & Co-Founder, Space Machines Company

It is brilliant to see Deloitte partnering with Space Machines Company to pursue this mission of national importance in a way that captures the unique value created when an established large organisation collaborates with an entrepreneurial start-up. Having formed the collaboration at Lot Fourteen, it is an example of the vision we had for how the precinct can help the Space Industry grow and create jobs across the country.” – The Honourable Steven Marshall, MP, Premier of South Australia

Deloitte Australia’s Space Sector Co-Lead, Steve Rayment, said: “We are excited to be bringing the breadth of Deloitte’s global capabilities to accelerate commercial innovation in the Australian space sector. As we have shown with the Gravity Challenge, Deloitte is strongly committed to proactively supporting purposeful growth of the Australian space ecosystem and bringing together innovators with the public and private sectors to create new business opportunities in space. Our vision is to see the Australian space ecosystem recognised globally as a leader in delivering value to the world’s key industry sectors and society through new disruptive space-enabled capabilities, business models and by the way we collaborate.

About Space Machines

Space Machines Company is an Australian start-up that is developing in-space transportation capabilities to cost-effectively insert small satellites into desired low earth orbits (LEO), geostationary earth orbits (GEO) and Lunar orbits. Space Machines Company has contracted Gilmour Space Technologies to launch the largest commercial satellite built in Australia in March 2022 to test their platform.

About Deloitte

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited (“DTTL”), its global network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) and each of its member firms and their affiliated entities are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL does not provide services to clients. Please see to learn more. to learn more.

Deloitte Asia Pacific Limited is a company limited by guarantee and a member firm of DTTL. Members of Deloitte Asia Pacific Limited and their related entities, each of which are separate and independent legal entities, provide services from more than 100 cities across the region, including Auckland, Bangkok, Beijing, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Melbourne, Osaka, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei and Tokyo.