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SmartSat Supports Space Tech Development

Image Credits: SmartSat, Press Release

SmartSat is committing over AU$1 million to support the development of new space technology that will be tested in space as payloads on the Waratah Seed WS-1 (Waratah Seed) spacecraft, Australia’s first space qualification-focused ride-share mission, due to take its maiden flight later in 2023.

The SmartSat NSW Node and SmartSat-initiated space start-up hub, the Aurora Space Startups Cluster, are funding projects which combined represent a significant portion of the Waratah Seed mission budget.

Waratah Seed is a 6U-sized satellite manufactured in Australia, with funding from the NSW Government and development led by the ARC Training Centre for CubeSats, UAVs, and their Applications (CUAVA) at the University of Sydney (USYD), along with support from several NSW-based partners including Macquarie University, the Delta-V Space Hub, ACSER at University of New South Wales (UNSW), University of Technology Sydney (UTS), and USYD. This landmark project aims to establish fundamental capabilities in the space sector of NSW and the broader Australian space industry.

The primary objective of the Waratah Seed mission is to provide opportunities for spaceflight in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) for innovative commercial and R&D payloads, such as scientific or technical instruments carried on a satellite. This allows these payloads to undergo testing and demonstrate their functionality and capability in the space environment.

One of the projects funded by SmartSat NSW Node for the Waratah Seed mission involves the development of a heat management solution for space-edge computer chips, which is a crucial challenge for satellites in Low Earth Orbit (LEO).

This technology, developed by an industry-research consortium comprising space startup companies as well as with research partner the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) from SmartSat CRC, has garnered significant investor and commercial interest globally.

The innovative heat management solution aims to enable space edge computing systems for both current and next-generation payloads and satellites, manufactured in Australia and internationally and will be demonstrated as a key enabler during the Waratah Seed mission.

The second payload supported by the SmartSat NSW Node for the Waratah Seed mission is an in-orbit demonstration of the capabilities of AICRAFT’s space edge computing module, Pulsar-2, which was sponsored by the Aurora Space Startups Cluster, another initiative of SmartSat CRC.

The locally developed Pulsar-2 module claims to have superior power efficiency compared to existing competing models, allowing for continuous operation of in-space edge applications for the entire duration of an orbital path (approximately 90 minutes), as opposed to the typical 10 minutes. This project presents a significant opportunity for space manufacturing in both New South Wales (NSW) and South Australia (SA), with the Pulsar-2 module, designed in SA, currently being assembled and tested at GPC Electronics’ advanced manufacturing facilities located in Western Sydney, NSW.

The CEO of SmartSat CRC stated that Waratah Seed is a historic step for NSW’s space industry. He noted that SmartSat expresses its appreciation for the commitment of New South Wales (NSW) to the Waratah Seed mission, and the organization is thrilled to be a part of this historic project.

SmartSat maintains a robust relationship with Investment NSW and actively supports the growth of the NSW space ecosystem, aiming to deliver pioneering projects that align with the nation’s space priorities. The two supported projects are of immense significance in advancing space technology and fostering the development of the space sector in NSW and across Australia.

According to the Director of the Waratah Seed project and CUAVA, the support received from SmartSat CRC is crucial for the success of the mission. He highlighted that the payload teams chosen by SmartSat are developing innovative solutions for challenging issues in space edge computing and satellite resilience. The Director expressed anticipation in launching and operating these payloads in space in collaboration with SmartSat before the end of the year.

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