News & Events

Upcoming Events

4th - 6th November 2015
Australian Technology Park
Locomotive Street, Eveleigh NSW 2015


More details will be posted as they become available.
For more information you can also check the AusIMM website.

The first Off-Earth Mining Forum, held at UNSW Australia's Kensington campus in February 2013 was an extraordinary event. Media coverage had a reach of over 8 million people across the world, with radio coverage in the UK and US, newspaper coverage in India and New Zealand and coverage by all Australian television networks. The second Off-Earth Mining Forum, to be held in November 2015 in conjunction with the third International Future Mining Conference, will be even bigger. The excitement generated by this research, fundamental to the establishment of economies in space, is growing.

The forum will host speakers from across the spectrum of off-earth mining issues: missions, resources, mining technologies, robotics, automation, instrumentation, legal impediments, business risks, and ethical considerations.

Asteroid mining companies are set to launch their first spacecraft in the near future, and the NASA is planning colonisation in near future by using resources available in space through off-earth mining research activities. If you'd like to know what they're planning and what they need to do to make it happen, we'll see you at the Second Off-Earth Mining Forum as part of the Third International Future Mining Conference.

To find out about previous events at ACSER click here.

ACSER in the Media


Space mining is closer than you think, and the prospects are great (The Conversation, 7th August 2015)

Mining That's Out of This World (Radio Interview with Prof Dempster on 2SER 107.3FM, 7th August 2015)

Mining the moon could make space travel to Mars a possibility (Radio Interview with Prof Dempster on ABC World Today (ABC Radio National, ABC Local), 21 July 2015)

Homemade satellites herald new age for Australian space industry (Radio Interview with Prof Dempster on ABC World Today (ABC Radio National, ABC Local), 22nd June 2015)

ISS Progress Comes Crashing Back to Earth (Radio Interview with Prof Dempster on 2SER 107.3FM, 7th May 2015)

Space treaties are a challenge to launching small satellites in orbit (The Conversation, 17th April 2015)

High-altitude balloon provides foray into final frontier (UNSW Newsroom, 15th April 2015)

For 2014 and earlier coverage click here.


High-altitude Balloons Provide Foray into Final Frontier

15 April 2015

UNSW is entering two teams entering the Global Space Balloon Challenge for 2015: the BLUEsat team and a team of enterprising postgraduate students whose team flies under the moniker "BALU".

The BALU team, sponsored by the School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, recently launched their high-altitude balloon from Warrumbungle National Park, in central NSW. The launch was the UNSW team’s second successful foray into the stratosphere, having competed in the inaugural Global Space Balloon Challenge in 2014 when they won the prize for Best Science Experiment. More than 200 teams from 47 countries took part in this year’s competition, which aims to develop science, engineering and technology skills and provide a low-cost foray into near-space exploration.

From the launch on 12 April, the balloon travelled to a height of 34.33 kilometres above the Warrumbungles – about three times the cruising altitude of commercial aircraft. The unmanned latex helium balloon was specifically manufactured to cope with huge temperature fluctuations and massive expansion due to the decrease in pressure at high altitude.

The team was able to capture spectacular images of the Warrumbungle mountain ranges, including the Siding Springs Observatory, Gunnedah and the curvature of the Earth's surface. Click here for the full set of images.

Read more... Team member Will Crowe said they "chose the Warrumbungles for its rugged beauty and because it was far enough away from the coast that the balloon wouldn’t blow into the ocean...We felt very stressed on the morning of the launch as we knew something can always go wrong even with the best laid plans.”

The balloon’s payload included a powerful avionics computer and a visual display to check the state of the electronic subsystems, as well as two high-definition cameras and an array of sensors and measuring equipment. The balloon travelled 140 kilometres from the launch site, following the Oxley Highway, before landing on a farm north east of Gunnedah with the help of a six-foot self-deploying parachute.

“We were ecstatic on recovering the balloon. The farmer upon whose property the balloon landed was also very excited,” William says.

In addition to new avionics, the team also used a novel payload container and solar heating system to minimise the weight, which allowed the balloon to fly higher and further than the previous launch.

“The main challenge was keeping the electronics warm so they could operate above their minimum temperature requirements. We recorded a minimum external temperature of minus 60° celsius but thankfully our novel solar warming system worked well and kept the internal temperature above minus 15° celsius,” says Joshua Yen.

“I think we went extremely well in this year's challenge. All the electronics worked and survived, and perhaps most importantly our payload design worked as well as we hoped."

The team now plans to enter the Global Space Balloon Challenge competition categories including best experiment, best photo, highest altitude and best design, with the winners announced in June.

Click here for more info on the Global Space Balloon Challenge.

The BLUEsat team will be launching their balloon in late April 2015. You can find footage from their earlier attempts on their YouTube Channel.

This story was first reported by the UNSW Newsroom.


For ACSER News from 2014 and earlier please click here.