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Space start-up wins for small satellite propulsion system

University of Auckland students are developing new satellite software that will simplify the process of sending satellites into space, according to a recent report.

More importantly, the start-up has just received a NZ$ 25,000 boost from the University’s entrepreneurship competition.

The students founded spaceflight systems start-up ZENNO Astronautics in 2017 with the aim of developing a propulsion system for small satellites as well as a suite of software for mission planning, development and operation.

Satellite software is lagging behind hardware in modularity and reusability. The start-up is developing applications which rest on its highly precise orbital mechanics simulator.

Thorough orbital path knowledge allows them to better understand how much solar power is available to a satellite, its internal heat flow, and expected lifetime.

The company is currently preparing a space debris mitigation plan for the first satellite to be launched by the University.

They are looking forward to acquiring flight heritage, strengthening their relationship with the New Zealand Space Agency, and facilitating space exploration nationally.

The NZ$ 25,000 prize that they have won in seed capital in the 2018 Velocity $100k Challenge will help them release their initial software product in 2019.

The Velocity $100k Challenge is the annual University of Auckland competition for emerging entrepreneurs. It is the country’s leading student-driven entrepreneurship programme.

Since its inception in 2003, alumni have launched more than 120 ventures, attracted over NZ$ 221 million in investment, created 600-plus jobs, and sold products and services into 37 countries.

This year a record of 95 teams entered the Challenge, which has a total prize pool of NZ$ 100,000 and is open to University students, staff and graduates.

The talent and passion that were seen from this year’s teams are truly exceptional. The Velocity community will follow these teams closely as they continue to develop their ideas to see what they will achieve.

The runner-up, which won NZ$ 15,000, is Electroclear. They are developing a permanent non-toxic solution involving ‘intelligent electronics’ to inhibit fouling organisms.

NZ$ 5,000 was given to Avasa, which simplifies microsurgery with a novel surgical device to help surgeons perform microsurgery exponentially faster with laser precision.

The same amount of NZ$ 5,000 was awarded to The Surgical Canary by H2Heal. The Surgical Canary is a medical device that monitors patients for leaks.

This promises to make surgery safer and cheaper for the millions of people who undergo bowel surgery every year.

All teams have also won entry to VentureLab, which is an incubator run by the University’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, to further develop their ventures.


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