CUBESAT2018 – Australian Innovation On Show

 Hypersonix presented at CUBESAT2018 in Sydney in July.

It’s a conference attended by start-ups and researchers to showcase the latest in Australia’s satellite and satellite launch technology. 

There was also a presentation from the freshly minted Australian Space Agency – “We are open for space business”.

Figure 1 - The disruptive nature of cubesats

Cubesats are tiny satellites, some not much bigger than a mobile phone. 

The revolution in micro-electronics has meant that satellites that once weighed 1000 kg (1 tonne) now weigh as little as 100 kg, while having the same or better capabilities.  Cubesats are even smaller, weighing as little as 10 kg.  Figure 1 shows a slide from Delta-V, a Sydney based start-up accelerator, indicating the disruptive nature of Cubesats.

Cubesats can produce beautiful images of the earth, communicate with farming equipment in remote areas, and keep track of where ships are at any time on the world’s oceans.  Figure 2 shows an image from an American company called Planet which maintains a constellation of more than 70 micro-satellites in low earth orbit. 

These satellites look back at the earth and Planet can supply an image like Figure 2 of anywhere on the earth’s surface once per day.  Figure 2 is of Rio De Janeiro and was taken on August 6, 2016 during the summer Olympics.

Figure 2 - Image of Rio De Janeiro during the 2016 Summer Olympics

CUBESAT2018 showcased the great advances Australian companies and researchers have made over the last few years. 

Australia has had 4 Cubsats launched into space.  Three of these were part of the European Space Agency’s QB50 program and were designed, built and are now being operated by Australian Universities. 

The Adelaide based start-up, Inovor Technologies, was responsible for the design and manufacture of one of the QB50 satellites. 

Biarri is a cubesat operated by the Defence Science and Technology Group of Australia using technology developed by the University of New South Wales.

Figure 3 - Artist's impression of AU03 INSPIRE-2 developed by the Australian Universities and launched as part of QB50.

Two Australian start-ups supply satellite based communications to Australian farmers using existing satellite constellations.   Fleet and Myrioto are on the forefront of what is known as the “Internet-of-things” (IoT). 

These companies can connect farmers with a multitude of sensors spread all over their farms.  For example, a farmer does not have to drive out and check on the level of water tanks and dams, but can download the information right at the homestead.  This type of technology is particularly applicable to Australia where properties can be thousands of hectares!

Of course, all these satellites need to get into space.  Over the next 10 years there is projected to be a need for over 6000 small satellites to be launched!

This is where companies like Hypersonix come in.  Hypersonix plans to supply dedicated launch of satellites up to 150kg to Australian and International customers, lanched from Australia. 

Each of the small satellites needs to be in its own orbit.  Hypersonix is sized to do just this.  Our resuable technology enables us to be commercially competitive but also sustainable.

If Australian space start-ups are able to get the financial support they need to take advantage of the commercial opportunities in space, then the sky really is the limit!