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Western Australia to Launch First Home-Grown Satellite

Western Australia is preparing to launch its first space satellite, which will take off on the CRS-23 commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station.

Binar-1 is the first integrated satellite fully designed and built in Western Australia and is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral in the United States of America at 3:37 pm on 28 August 2021 (AWST). A team of students and engineers at Curtin University’s Space Science and Technology Centre developed the state-of-the-art Binar-1 CubeSat.

Curtin used commodity electronics manufacturing processes to develop a cost-effective sovereign spacecraft, enabling easy access to space for students, researchers, industry and defence. After its launch on 28 August, the spacecraft will then be deployed into low-earth orbit from the International Space Station.

Binar-1 will validate the technology in space and lay the foundations for future Moon missions to locate and produce a high-resolution digital mapping of resources on the Moon’s surface. A total of seven Binar CubeSat launches are planned for 2021 and 2022.

The technology is forecast to become the most validated and flight-proven Australian spacecraft, positioning WA as a leader in the development and operation of active spacecraft. Over the past 18 months, the WA Government has committed more than $6.25 million to enhance the capability and capacity of WA’s space sector and support innovative jobs of the future.

The Western Australian Government invested $500,000 into the Binar program, adding that the launch demonstrates the importance of science, research and technology to the state economy and its role in the global space sector to create jobs of the future.

The region’s premier noted that Western Australia is about to make history with the state’s first space mission. He also noted that he was immensely proud of the students and engineers who have developed this amazing technology which opens so many doors for future missions and collaboration with the public and private sectors. The Science Minister of WA stated that the launch will be a pivotal moment for Western Australia, and is set to inspire future generations of scientists, engineers and astronauts.

Binar-1 will take Australia into space and is a huge milestone for WA’s rich 60-year history in the space sector. Everyone in Western Australia should find time to tune into this historic launch and celebrate the achievements of this amazing feat, the Minister said.

The global CubeSat market was valued at AU$ 210.1 million in 2019 and is projected to reach AU$ 491.3 million by 2027, registering a CAGR of 15.1%, recent research notes. The satellite industry has suffered due to the COVID-19 disease and thus the CubeSat market also experienced a dip in 2020 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 outbreak has forced governments across the globe to focus on medical services. Owing to this, the countries are reducing their budgets for space programs to help pay for the pandemic response and recovery measures which are limiting the growth of the CubeSat market. However, despite the negative impact of COVID-19, owing to the rising participation of private players the CubeSat industry managed to perform moderately and several CubeSats were launched in 2020.

With the rising capabilities and usability of CubeSats, owing to the technological developments in electronics and communications, modern satellites are being developed for new applications such as space mining and space debris clean-up, among others.

With respect to space mining, some of the private corporations have already initiated projects aimed at the utilization of minerals, energy resources, and water, located in outer space. For instance, a US-based firm that aims to develop and deploy the technologies for asteroid mining, in 2018, successfully launched its Arkyd-6, a 6U CubeSat to discover water resources in space, with the objective of stimulating the impending human expansion in space.

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