South Australian ambition gets a space boost

James Riley
Editorial Director

The South Australian government has doubled down on its push into the space sector, partnering with industry to send a locally designed and manufactured satellite into orbit.

Announced by Premier Steven Marshall, the so-called SASAT1 Space Services Mission marks the first time that a state government has embarked on a space launch project.

The mission aims to put a small satellite into low-earth orbit, to be used in the delivery of a variety of state services such as water quality monitoring, mining, bush fire mitigation, emergency services and the environment.

Steven Marshall
Rocketman: South Australian Premier Steven Marshall goes all-in on the space program

The SmartSat CRC will lead the $6.5 million mission and application prototyping, with Adelaide-based satellite manufacturing firm Inovor Technologies designing and building the satellite, and South Australian space company Myriota contracted for the Internet of Things (IoT) space services.

SmartSat CRC chief executive Prof Andy Koronios told InnovationAus that no decision had yet been on the choice of launch vehicle, but said it was possible an Australia rocket company such as Gilmour Space Technologies could be used.

It opens the prospect of an Australian designed and manufactured satellite being launched from Australia on an Australia rocket – delivering services that utilise the IoT services of an Australian space company.

“We have not yet decided on the launch segment but will be doing so soon. What you can say for sure is that to the degree that is possible, we will be doing our best to procure as much of the technology and space services from SA and from Australia,” Professor Koronios said.

“Gilmour is one of our partners and they will certainly be considered!”

Premier Steven Marshall said the SASAT1 Space Services Mission, and the involvement of the state government, would strengthen the competitiveness of South Australian businesses in the small-satellite supply chain and pave the way for external investment and future growth – both in Australia and overseas.

“To be announcing that we will embark on a flagship space mission in early 2021 to deliver progressive space-derived services to South Australia is astounding and demonstrates why our state is the national leader in space innovation,” Premier Marshall said.

“The SASAT1 Space Services Mission will deliver significant value to our state and to our local space industry as well as paving the way for growth in space-craft export, IoT sensor exports, Department of Defence and Australian Government space and defence-related projects and the South Australian supply chain,” he said.

“The satellite will also allow South Australian school students to view firsthand the vital information we gain from satellites right here in their own backyard. This is just one step in getting our next generation excited about what a career in space could mean for them.”

“Applications include using the data and imagery we collect to solve real life problems, like helping farmers monitor water levels so they can more accurately predict future yields.”

The SASAT1 Space Services Mission will commence in early 2021 to deliver the satellite in 15 months for launch into orbit. The satellite will be available for a further three years to 2025 for data collection and operations under current funding.

Prof Koronios said the mission was evidence that the state is building a local small satellite manufacturing supply chain and strengthening its competitiveness to transform into a hi-tech economy.

“This mission will provide opportunities for small startup companies to use the ongoing data captured by the satellite to develop analytics applications for government and commercial use,” Prof Koronios.

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