Start-ups ready for orbit aboard Space Machines Company’s first mission

Start-ups ready for orbit aboard Space Machines Company’s first mission

The start-up world is clamouring for its place in orbit with Australian in-space logistics provider Space Machines Company announcing four more companies plan to participate in the launch of its first orbit transfer vehicle next year.

The four Australian start-ups will join HEO Robotics and CSIRO as part of the launch of Optimus, the company’s first orbital transfer vehicle set to take occur in 2022. 

The companies participating in the debut mission include Spiral Blue, a Sydney start-up that is building Space Edge, an onboard computer for Earth observation satellites, and Esper Satellite Imagery, a company that uses hyperspectral imagery to gather intricate data about Earth for enhancing sustainable mining and agriculture.

Space Machines Company is also partnering with Sperospace, a company developing robotic actuators and connection mechanisms for the next generation of satellite services and modular space platforms, and Dandelions, an aerospace communications company.

Rajat Kulshrestha, the founder and CEO of Sydney-based Space Machines Company, says the new payloads mark a critical next step for the group’s first mission into space.

“We are excited to announce the partnerships with each organisation as we continue to strengthen Australia’s sovereign capability while collaboratively working together to launch Optimus successfully,” he says.

Esper Satellite Imagery and Spiral Blue are working together to test a new approach to producing high-definition satellite images of Earth. 

Esper uses hyperspectral imagery to gather images in wavelengths that allow the analysis of materials compositions, from minerals to plants. Spiral Blue uses artificial intelligence and edge computing to process the images with the combined technologies seeking to transform how space images help in areas such as agriculture, mining and environmental controls. 

“The launch with Space Machines Company will help us demonstrate our technology in space, allowing us to access domestic and international market opportunities for new space image applications,” says Spiral Blue CEO Taofiq Huq.

Esper Satellite Imagery’s Shoaib Iqbal says the mission will provide a vital test for his company’s core imaging technology capabilities.

“This mission, in particular, will have a key focus on the agriculture and forestry industry while also covering other industries Esper currently serves,” Iqbal says.

Sperospace is looking to test some of its space robotics solutions, primarily focusing on assembling, maintaining, and repairing satellites in space.

“This launch will validate Sperospace’s in-space assembly mechanisms and actuators which are a core part of our technology portfolio, says Sperospace CEO Bohan Deng.

“This is a stepping-stone to integrating sophisticated payloads such as robotic arms aboard Space Machine’s spacecraft.”

Dandelions, which works with clients in space logistics and emergency services, enables domestic and international Internet of Things (IoT) players to add space-based assets, such as satellites, to their existing sensor networks. 

“Dandelions is excited to partner with Space Machines on this pioneering Australian collaboration,” says company founder and CEO Brian Lim.

“This launch will allow us to showcase our proprietary stack for emergency services organisations and terrestrial sensor grid stakeholders across private and public sector clients.”

Space Machines Company last month announced it had teamed up with Italian ground support provider Leaf Space for its first mission next year. The European-based company will provide all the ground support services for the launch including the decommissioning of the launch vehicle.

Space Machines Company announced its first commercial payload earlier this year from Queensland company Fireball which plans to launch up to 24 satellites into low-Earth orbit to provide a major new bushfire detection service for Australia.

The first mission will be undertaken in collaboration with Gold Coast launch specialist company Gilmour Space Technologies, which will deploy the payloads aboard the Optimus-1 orbital transport vehicle.


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