Sydney-based startup Space Machines Company is a step closer to launching Australia’s largest commercial satellite next year after teaming up with Italian ground support provider Leaf Space.
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 mission will be undertaken in collaboration with Gold Coast launch company Gilmour Space Technologies, deploying the satellite aboard Space Machine Company’s Optimus-1 orbital transport vehicle.
Rajat Kulshrestha, the founder and CEO of Space Machines Company, says the partnership with Leaf Space was a critical step in preparing for the company’s first mission next year.
“We are proud to partner with Leaf Space as it is an important step in furthering Australia’s sovereign capability and expanding our services globally,” he says.
Leaf Space, which was established in 2014 to provide low-cost services for the aerospace industry in Europe, expanded its operations to the US earlier this year to meet the growing demand for launch services in America. The company has previously worked with the European Space Agency and Swiss satellite communications company Astrocast.
“We are excited to announce this partnership with Space Machines Company as it highlights the growing need for precise in-space logistics as we see more and more satellites go into orbit, each with specific mission requirements,” says Leaf Space managing director Jai Dialani.
“Leaf Space is looking forward to providing our fast, reliable and flexible ground station solutions to support Space Machines Company’s Optimus-1 mission next year.”
The mission is a big test for the Australian space industry which is being driven by a slew of startups.
Space Machines Company is developing in-space logistics capabilities, including deploying satellites into orbit and supporting deep space missions.
Gilmour Space this year raised $61 million to prepare for the launch of its new Eris rocket next year. Apart from the contract with Space Machines Company, Gilmour Space also has signed with South Australia’s Fleet Space Technologies to carry six nanosatellites into orbit in 2023.
The planned launch of the Fireball satellite is the first step in the company establishing a high-tech bushfire detection system similar to one Fireball already has in place on the west coast of the US.
Fireball says its system provided essential support to firefighters during California’s devastating fire season in 2020.
by Nick Nichols
15 September 20