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NSW space tech to board Australia's first ride-share satellite

A payload of space technology designed by five of the state’s most ambitious space-related businesses, including robotic arms, solar cells and space edge computers, will be launched into orbit to test and prove functionality, as part of an Australian-first ride-share satellite mission to make NSW a global force in space technology.

The NSW Space Qualification Mission, project ‘Waratah Seed’, is led by the Australian Research Centre (ARC) for Cubesats, Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles and their Applications (CUAVA), and aims to make entering the space industry accessible and affordable for entrepreneurs and startups.

Investment NSW CEO Amy Brown said the five winners will receive significant support for a ride to space to test and prove components of their products.

“Waratah Seed is a NSW Government funded satellite that will make product testing more accessible and affordable, quite literally taking space-related research and development to a new frontier,” Ms Brown said.

“Supporting space startups to get their products market-ready not only helps build a thriving future industry in NSW, but also equips us with innovative new technologies to monitor carbon emissions, manage natural resources, support disaster response efforts and provide critical earth observation data to tackle problems here on earth.”

Waratah Seed Director Professor Iver Cairns said this mission represents a bold new approach to develop the space industry in NSW.

“The Waratah Seed mission will create jobs and drive development of space-ready technology, services and people for our space sector. CUAVA and its partners are ready for the challenge of delivering the first Australian ride-share,” Professor Cairns said.

The five teams of space entrepreneurs and their payloads are:

  • Dandelions, led by Brian Lim, will launch new structural materials like hemp into space to test their effectiveness in a space environment
  • Euroka Power, led by Anita Ho-Baillie, will test their highly efficient and radiation-tolerant next generation solar cell technology
  • ExtraTerrestrial Power, led by Peter Toth, will test their solar cells based on terrestrial silicon technologies
  • Spero Space, led by Bohan Deng, will launch a robotic arm which can be used to upgrade or repair satellites in-orbit
  • Spiral Blue, led by Taofiq Huq, will test an innovative space edge computing solution to process images on satellites to enable close to real-time applications for earth observation data.

Spiral Blue CEO Taofiq Huq and Euroka Power’s Anita Ho-Baillie said they are incredibly excited to have been selected to ride on Waratah Seed.

“Once our technology is proven in space, we look forward to supporting national and commercial missions in areas as diverse as fighting bushfires, improving agricultural yields, and keeping watch over our borders,” Mr Huq said.

“Access to the Waratah Seed CubeSat will reduce the barrier for Euroka Power to attain flight heritage, valuable flight-time and opportunities for proof of concept and for evaluating the stability of different cell designs in the space environment,” Ms Ho-Baillie said.

Teams were selected following a competitive process involving feedback, mentoring sessions and pitches to a public audience of peers and a judging panel.

The Waratah Seed Mission is a funded initiative of the NSW Space Industry Development Strategy. To find out more about the Waratah Seed winners and their payloads, visit https://www.waratahseed.space/.