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Postdoctoral Research Associate in Mission Autonomy for Robotic Satellites

Chippendale, Australia
$101K - $112 + 17% superannuation
Closing date
2 Jun 2024

Job Details

  • Full time, fixed term for 18 months
  • Collaborate with researchers and key industry partners in space and robotics
  • Base Salary $101K - $112 + 17% superannuation

About the opportunity

We are seeking an innovative and skilled Postdoctoral Research Associate to engage in research and development of Mission Autonomy for future robotic satellites.

The aim of our project is to research and develop mission-oriented algorithms that will provide high-level guidance and on-board autonomy for real-time in-orbit servicing using robotic satellites. The real-time nature of this problem is critical as in-orbit servicing needs to deal with a disruptive environment characterised by the changing relative motion of the target spacecraft with respect to service spacecraft, potentially unknown future actions of the target spacecraft, changing light conditions and newly identified features on the target spacecraft, and other environmental phenomena.

This role is part of a collaborative SmartSat CRC project joining leaders from Australia's space industry with premier academics in space and robotics. Industry partners include Abyss, ANT61, Space Machines, Aerospace, and Spiral Blue. This position offers the potential for extension beyond its initial duration, contingent on performance and funding availability.

The role will be supervised by Prof Salah Sukkarieh. Working within the Australian Centre for Robotics (ACFR), you will be part of a pioneering team addressing the dynamic and challenging environment of in-orbit satellite servicing.

Key Responsibilities:

  • research and develop mission-oriented algorithms that will provide high-level guidance and on-board autonomy for real-time in-orbit servicing using robotic satellites.
  • research and develop adaptive and optimised orbit trajectories that are constrained by time and energy, allowing for continuous mission plan and trajectory adjustments within a temporal sliding window.
  • collaborate with project academics, engineers, and PhD students in conceptualising, developing, and implementing these autonomy solutions.
  • support the integration of these algorithms into satellite testbed control systems, enhancing their efficacy under varied and unpredictable conditions.
  • contribute to the creation of a demonstrator system that showcases your research and the collaborative project efforts.
  • engage in project report preparation, dissemination at top international conferences and journals, and participate in internal workshops and presentations.

The University values courage and creativity; openness and engagement; inclusion and diversity; and respect and integrity. As such, we see the importance of recruiting talent aligned to these values and are looking for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Mission Autonomy for Robotic Satellites who has:

  • recently completed, or about to complete, a PhD in Robotics, Aerospace Engineering, Computer Science, or a related field. (Note this is an early career role)
  • a strong background in algorithms, especially related to real-time/applied optimisation and/or autonomous/robotic systems trajectory optimisation.
  • experience with programming languages such as C, C++, Python, and/or MATLAB
  • strong organisational skills to manage multiple objectives and coordinate project tasks
  • excellent communication and interpersonal skills, capable of working effectively in a collaborative setting.

Prior experience with satellite orbit mechanics, orbit determination, and orbit trajectory analysis will be highly regarded.

To keep our community safe, please be aware of our COVID safety precautions which form our conditions of entry for all staff, students and visitors coming to campus.

Pre-employment checks

Your employment is conditional upon the completion of all role required pre-employment or background checks in terms satisfactory to the University. Similarly, your ongoing employment is conditional upon the satisfactory maintenance of all relevant clearances and background check requirements. If you do not meet these conditions, the University may take any necessary step, including the termination of your employment.

EEO statement

At the University of Sydney, our shared values include diversity and inclusion and we strive to be a place where everyone can thrive. We are committed to creating a University community that reflects the wider community that we serve. We deliver on this commitment through our people and culture programs, as well as key strategies to increase participation and support the careers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, women, people living with a disability, people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, and those who identify as LGBTIQ. We welcome applications from candidates from all backgrounds.

How to apply

Applications (including a cover letter, CV, and any additional supporting documentation) can be submitted via the Apply button at the top of the page.

For employees of the University or contingent workers, please login into your Workday account and navigate to the Career icon on your Dashboard. Click on USYD Find Jobs and apply.

For a confidential discussion about the role, or if you require reasonable adjustment or any documents in alternate formats, please contact Rebecca Astar or Cherie Goodwin by email to

Copyright The University of Sydney

The University reserves the right not to proceed with any appointment.

Click to view the Position Description for this role.

Applications Close

Sunday 02 June 2024 11:59 PM


The University of Sydney was established in 1850 and is consistently recognised, both locally and internationally, for its outstanding teaching and research excellence. Sydney alumni include Prime Ministers, Governor Generals, Nobel Prize winners and leaders in every field of endeavour.

The University offers a comprehensive range of courses, including a number of disciplines unique in Australia. Teaching is spread across nine different state-of-the art campuses, located across New South Wales.

The University of Sydney’s commitment to excellence in research has resulted in an outstanding record in national competitive funding and underpins an approach to teaching which has won nominations for excellence and resulted in high student satisfaction ratings. The University has 78 research centres and institutes and is home to three ARC Centres of Excellence.

The teaching, research and cultural life of the University is supported by extensive facilities, including the largest library collection in the Southern Hemisphere, the world-class Nicholson Museum of archaeological antiquities, the Macleay Museum of natural history and ethnographic collections and the University Art Gallery. Its outstanding sporting and recreation facilities provide a training centre for students and Olympic athletes.

The University of Sydney is a key member of the Group of Eight Australian major research-intensive universities, and the Worldwide Universities Network.


The University of Sydney has nine official campuses.

1.         Camperdown/Darlington Campus.

2.         Cumberland Campus. Home to the Faculty of Health Sciences (based in Lidcombe).

3.         Mallett Street Campus. Home of the Sydney Nursing School.

4.         Sydney Conservatorium of Music Campus. In Macquarie Street, central Sydney.

5.         Rozelle Campus. Home to Sydney College of the Arts.

6.         Surry Hills Campus. Home to the Faculty of Dentistry.

7.         Camden Campus. Contains facilities connected to the Faculty of Veterinary Science and the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment.

8.         Burren Street Campus. Facilties are currently under development.

9.         Sydney Medical School campuses. These include the School of Rural Health (in Dubbo and Orange), the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Concord Hospital, Westmead Hospital, the Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Nepean Hospital, Northern Clinical School, Sydney Adventist Hospital, Broken Hill University Department of Rural Health, and Northern Rivers University Department of Rural Health.


The University of Sydney has 16 faculties.

1. Agriculture and Environment

2. Architecture, Design and Planning

3. Arts and Social Sciences

4. Business (Business School)

5. Dentistry

6. Education and Social Work

7. Engineering and Information Technologies

8. Health Sciences

9. Law (Sydney Law School)

10. Medicine (Sydney Medical School)

11. Nursing and Midwifery

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13. Science

14. Sydney College of the Arts

15. Sydney Conservatorium of Music

16. Veterinary Science

Number of Employees

Full-time employees: 7616

For more information, please visit:

Company info
+(61) 2 9351 2222

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