The institute is a non-profit organisation run entirely by volunteers. Most of the work at ASRI is done in collaboration with Australian universities such as the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, Queensland University of Technology and the University of Technology, Sydney. As of 2006, ASRI is developing a vision for the future of Australia's space community, including industry.
Unlike space agencies in most industrialised countries, ASRI does not receive any direct government funding since the Australian Government sees no strategic, economic or social reason to pursue self-sufficiency in space, and its stated space engagement policy is user- and market-driven rather than supply-driven (or “technology–push”), the objective being to obtain secure and economic access for Australian users to space products and services developed in the global market place.
The ASRI was created to provide opportunities for space-related industry and technology development for the Australian technical communinity.
During the heyday of rocketry research in the 1960s Australia was the fourth nation to launch a satellite, WRESAT, into orbit, and the third from its own soil.
Around the same time the European Launcher Development Organisation (ELDO) was established to develop a European satellite launch vehicle. Woomera, Australia, was chosen as the launch site for the test vehicles. Australia was granted status as the only non-European member of ELDO (one of the precursors to the European Space Agency) in return for providing the launch facilities. A series of successful launches was conducted from 1964 to 1970 with the aim of reaching orbit and eventually orbiting an operational satellite. The final launch attempt of ELDO's Europa 1 launch vehicle took place at Woomera on 12 June 1970 however the satellite failed to reach orbit. No successful satellite launch was ever achieved by the ELDO and European satellite launch activities then shifted to the French site at Kourou, in French Guiana, which is now home to Ariane launchers.
Since then Australian space-related activities have been virtually nonexistent. The goal of the ASRI is to re-establish Australia as a significant player in the global space industry.
Launches are conducted twice a year from Woomera, South Australia. Two types of rockets are used:
Ausroc 2.5 is the principal subject of current developments efforts. It is currently projected to launch in late 2007. Prior to that, a key milestone will be the ground testing of the propulsion subsystem.
The project is currently seeking volunteers to assist with manufacturing, integration and testing.
Ausroc IV is intended to place a small satellite (up to 35kg) into a Low Earth Orbit.
JAESAT (Joint Australian Engineering Satellite) is a collaboration between ASRI, the Cooperative Research Centre for Satellite Systems, the Queensland University of Technology and Ukrainian Youth Aerospace Association, Suzirya, that began in 1997. The project was put on hold in 2000 when CRCSS withdrew funds due to cost and schedule over-runs with a joint American-Australian venture, FedSat.