Australian CubeSats arrive at the Space Station

The SpaceX Cargo Dragon capsule carrying CUAVA-1 and Binar-1, pictured as it approaches the International Space Station on August 30. Credit: Thomas Pesquet / ESA / NASA.

TTwo CubeSats designed and built in Australia reached the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft.

The Binar-1 and CUAVA-1 satellites will now wait their turn to be deployed from the ISS and into their own orbits later this year.

Binar-1 is Western Australia’s first spacecraft, designed and built by staff and students at Curtin University’s Space Science and Technology Center (SSTC) as part of a program conducted in partnership with Fugro and supported by the Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth (ROSE).

The main objective of the mission is to test all critical space systems that will aid the missions to the Moon. Two cameras aboard Binar-1 will capture images of the WA coast and relay them back to Earth.

“We will be able to control and command our missions from Perth via Fugro’s Australian Space Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Complex (SpAARC), which will use Binar CubeSats to test operating protocols. remotely on an orbiting spacecraft, ”said SSTC Director and John Curtin Distinguished Professor Phil Bland.

Artist’s impression of the Binar-1 satellite in orbit. Courtesy of Curtin University.

“The Binar space program has six more launches planned over the next 18 months,” he added. “Our ultimate goal is to have a WA-built spacecraft on the moon by 2025.”

“The launch of Binar-1 is our first real step towards this goal. Being able to build spacecraft affordably means that we can quickly iterate the technology, which is a key element in developing advanced systems for exploration, which then benefit other industrial sectors as well. “

CUAVA-1 is the main project of the Australian Research Council’s Training Center for CubeSats, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Their Applications (CUAVA). This will be the first space flight managed by Saber Astronautics through the Responsive Space Operations Center (RSOC) in Adelaide.

The CubeSat’s four experimental payloads will give scientists and research students a glimpse into near-Earth orbit during its 12-month mission, during which it:

  • Investigate Earth’s Plasma Environment and Space Weather Using On-Board Radiation Detectors
  • Observe Earth Using New Imaging Technology
  • Test equipment designed for use in a future satellite that will search for signs of life on the planets around Alpha Centauri, our closest star system
  • Link with the International Union of Radio Amateurs for education and awareness.

Artist’s impression of the CUAVA-1 CubeSat in orbit. Courtesy of the University of Sydney.

“This mission shows that Australian universities are at the forefront of our emerging national space industry,” said CUAVA Director Professor Iver Cairns of the School of Physics at the University of Sydney.

“Our CUAVA training center is at the forefront of the development of near-Earth space technology and is a vital link in training the next generation of space engineers and scientists. “

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