PwC supporting Seven Sisters: Australia’s space mission to the Moon

28 March 2022 4 min. read
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An Australian consortium of space-tech experts is aiming to send a resources-exploration rover to the Moon alongside NASA’s Artemis mission.

Professional services firm PwC is supporting a literal Moon-shot – providing consultation to a consortium of organisations aiming to send an Australian-made rover to the Moon in collaboration with NASA.

As part of the US space agency’s Artemis mission to establish a permanent lunar base, the Seven Sisters project is developing advanced technology in a bid to uncover sufficient resources to fuel ongoing exploration, with an expected launch in 2026.

PwC supporting Seven Sisters: Australia’s space mission to the Moon

The stated mission of the Seven Sisters consortium is to harness technologies such as remote and sub-surface sensing and robotic drilling to develop innovative, non-invasive, and scalable exploration tools for use on the Moon and Mars, as well as back on Earth – with the ultimate goal to support interplanetary bases and enable humanity’s exploration and settlement of new worlds.

One of the first challenges is to detect liquid water and mineral deposits on the planets.

Led by nano-satellite and IoT developer Fleet Space Technologies, additional Seven Sisters members include Airbus, quantum technology company Q-CTRL, the University of Adelaide’s Andy Thomas Centre for Space Resources, The Australian Institute for Machine Learning, the University of Sydney’s Australian Centre for Field Robotics, and the engineering faculty of Monash University’s dedicated lunar rover development wing.

Recently, the group released a depiction of its preliminary rover design – just as NASA gets set to launch the first phase of its mission, the uncrewed Artemis I, following a final ‘wet’ dress rehearsal this month. The third phase aims to land a crew on the lunar surface by 2024, returning humans to the Moon for the first time in more than fifty years. Provided it meets a range of conditions prior to then, the Seven Sisters rover will tag along for the ride.

“Australia is a world leader in mining engineering research and automation,” commented Andrew Dempster, director of the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research. “It has the largest resources companies and it makes a lot of sense for our young space industry to concentrate on an area of Australian strength. The Seven Sisters mission offers a real opportunity to leverage strong Australian technology to promote human endeavours on the Moon.”

According to the Seven Sisters website, PwC will contribute technical and project management expertise to the project, while also bringing to the table its deep supply chain & procurement and communications and outreach know-how. Further, PwC will act as an intermediary to introduce the project’s technical personnel, research partners and its own employees to space industry experts from the firm’s global network.

The consortium takes its name from the star cluster otherwise known as Pleiades, in Greek mythology the companions of Artemis, but also acknowledges the widespread Indigenous Australian connection to the Seven Sisters through songline. Based out of Adelaide, the group also symbolises the city’s emergence as a leading hub for space technology, which recently received a further boost through additional government funding.

Adelaide space hub

Already cementing its reputation as a general tech and innovation centre – including through the establishment of PwC’s local Skilled Service Hub – that funding will go toward a $66 million Space Manufacturing Hub at Adelaide Airport, which is a collaboration between Fleet Space and Q-CTRL together with fellow local start-ups ATSpace, a rocket producer, and Alauda Aeronautics, which is getting set to launch the world’s first electric aerial racing car series.

“We are proud to be part of one of the world’s great centres of excellence for the development of leading space exploration technologies,” said Fleet Space Technologies co-founder and CEO Flavia Tata Nardini. “Involvement in endeavours like the Seven Sisters project and its bold mission to support NASA’s ground-breaking Moon and Mars missions are vital to growing a sector of increasing strategic importance for our nation.”