Researchers say the deployment of Western Australia’s first homegrown spacecraft will position the state as a leader in Australian space exploration.
Weighing in at 1.5 kilograms and made up of 10-centimetre aluminium modules, the Binar-1 cube-shaped satellite is set to be launched into space on Saturday.
It will be aboard a SpaceX rocket carrying supplies from Cape Canaveral in the United States to the International Space Station.
Named after the Noongar word for fireball, Binar-1 was designed and built by students and engineers at Perth’s Curtin University.
A team of 30 undergraduate students at the university’s Space Science and Technology Centre were involved in developing the software and hardware for what will be the first WA-built spacecraft to be deployed in a space mission.
WA’s first home-grown #spacecraft ready for take-off!
Premier @MarkMcGowanMP and Science Minister @RogerCookMLA began the countdown clock for the historic launch of the #Binar-1 #CubeSat built entirely by @CurtinSpaceSci staff and students. Read more: https://t.co/WsEvoFxWlf pic.twitter.com/LbyYz9zDSd
— Curtin Media (@CurtinMedia) August 23, 2021
After landing at the space station, Binar-1 will be launched into orbit where two cameras on board will be used to capture images of the WA coastline.
It will remain in orbit for 18 months.
The first launch is being used to test the technology, but by 2025 it’s hoped Binar satellites will pass within 20 kilometres of the lunar surface to map the geology of the moon, including minerals and ice deposits, in greater detail.
Premier Mark McGowan said the launch would represent a major step forward for WA’s space sector.
“It is tremendously exciting to see first-hand the strong partnership between industry and academia that is putting WA in space,” he said.
“The launch of Binar-1 positions WA as a major player in Australia’s space sector, driving the diversification of its economy into a future-focused industry and creating a new, highly skilled workforce with capabilities that are easily transferable between the space and other sectors, such as mining and resources.”
Curtin Professor Phil Bland said the development of Binar satellites was set to be extended to high school students in the future.
He said the program had six more launches planned over the next 18 months.
“For context, in its history our nation has only flown 15 Australian-built spacecraft,” he said.
“Our novel design allows us to make spacecraft affordable, and space accessible for WA innovators.”