Latest News, Sustainability

Australian satellite launched to clean up space junk

Sydney’s Space Machines Company has launched a trailblazing satellite to clean up space junk. 

Designed and built in Australia the Optimus satellite is a 270-kilogram orbital servicing vehicle (OSV).

As Australia’s largest ever spacecraft, it was blasted successfully into orbit in March 2024, set to help transform the satellite industry.

Space Machines Company head of marketing, Sharmila Fernando said, ‘Optimus is the first Australian commercial satellite equipped to deliver life-extension services.”

The recently launched satellite can monitor and repair ageing satellites and decommission old ones.

‘Our spacecraft can refuel, repair, reuse and deorbit old satellites. Our mission at Space Machines Company will be to provide a satellite roadside assistance network to fix failures in orbit,” said Fernando.

It also carries payloads from Australia’s space-tech pioneers. These include modules for spectral imaging, domain awareness and space-based artificial intelligence.

According to Space Machines Company 60 per cent of the satellite contains Australian technologies from homegrown startups.

Fernado recognised Australia’s startups: “We have incredible talent and technology. Many of our partners are Australian startups. We’ve given them the ability to gain space heritage.”

Australian collaboration on the satellite includes the hyperspectral camera from Victoria-based Esper, the use of edge computing from Sydney’s Spiral Blue and a space domain awareness camera from HEO.

CSIRO space program director Kimberley Clayfield said the satellite is also a testbed for upcoming emerging technologies.

The Satellite was successfully blasted into orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in March 2024 from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

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