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Australian-first satellite to be built at Lot Fourteen in $6.5m partnership

21 January 2021


Main photo: Premier Steven Marshall announces the SASAT1 mission, flanked by Inovor Technologies founder and chief executive Dr Matthew Tetlow and participants in the National Youth Science Forum in Adelaide.

A satellite to be built at Lot Fourteen will become the first to be put into space by an Australian state government under a $6.5 million, ground-breaking South Australian space mission announced yesterday by Premier Steven Marshall.

The state government is partnering with the South Australian space industry to send a locally manufactured small satellite into low Earth orbit – the first state government in Australia to embark on such a mission.

The information gathered by the satellite will boost South Australia’s space economy and provide valuable intelligence from across the state’s vast landscape which can be used for applications including emergency service and disaster management response, mining, and environmental purposes.

The SASAT1 Space Services Mission will strengthen the competitiveness of South Australian businesses in the small-satellite supply chain and pave the way for external investment and future growth in Australia and abroad.

The SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), based at Lot Fourteen, will lead the mission and application prototyping. Two other Lot Fourteen tenants will work on the mission - Inovor Technologies will design, build and test the satellite and Myriota will provide its Internet of Things (IoT) capability.

SASAT1 will start in early 2021, with the aim of delivering 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.

The space industry is one of the high-growth focus sectors at Lot Fourteen, which is also home to the Australian Space Agency and other pioneering space industry companies, including Neumann Space, Space Machines Company and Aurora Space Startup Cluster. The Australian Space Agency is set to open the Australian Space Discovery Centre and Mission Control Centre at Lot Fourteen in the first half of 2021.

Premier Marshall (far right) visits Myriota at Lot Fourteen as part of the SASAT1 announcement. Photo: SmartSat CRC, Sarah Darbyshire.

Premier Marshall said SASAT1 would deliver on key objectives outlined in the ten-year South Australia Growth State: Space Sector Strategy, released in November.

“South Australia is embarking on a bold mission with industry to design and build a satellite to deliver space-derived services to the state – a venture never undertaken before by any State Government around the country,” Premier Marshall said.

“Not only will the satellite help us make better decisions for state services, it comprehensively cements South Australia as the space state.

“SASAT1 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,” Premier Marshall 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.”

SmartSat CRC Chief Executive Professor Andy Koronios said SASAT1 was evidence that the South Australian government was working hard to build the local small satellite manufacturing supply chain and strengthen its competitiveness to transform the state into a hi-tech economy.

“This mission will provide opportunities for small start-up companies to use the ongoing data captured by the satellite to develop analytics applications for government and commercial use,” said Professor Koronios.

“The SASAT1 Space Services Mission positions South Australia to play an even greater role in national initiatives like water quality monitoring and bushfire mitigation.

“SmartSat is incredibly excited to be providing leadership for this South Australian government initiative and we are committed to providing expertise and R&D capability to make the mission a great success.”

Trade and Investment Minister Stephen Patterson said SASAT1 would build on South Australia’s strong starting position in the NewSpace economy.

“The state is presently targeting an annual growth rate in the space sector of 5.8% over the next ten years, with expectations that the SASAT1 mission will accelerate that,” he said.

Inovor Technologies founder and chief executive Dr Matthew Tetlow said the company was “incredibly excited” to share the journey of SASAT1 with the people of South Australia.

“Our hope is that the whole state will rally behind it,” he said.

“The mission will demonstrate why space is important to the South Australian community and how information from space can be used to improve our lives on Earth.

“It is also helping to build a space ecosystem that will support the creation of more high-tech careers into the future for young South Australians.

Myriota CEO and co-founder Dr Alex Grant, said that the mission provides a great opportunity for understanding the state’s environment, while simultaneously creating opportunities for collaboration across South Australia’s growing space ecosystem.

“Myriota is proud to be involved in the SASAT1 project, and to partner with space industry leaders Inovor Technology, the SmartSat CRC, and the South Australian government,” Dr Alex Grant said.

Once launched into low Earth orbit, the satellite will support data collection from ground- based sensors plus Earth observation imaging via a hyperspectral electro-optical payload. Myriota’s IoT connectivity will support the collection of data about multiple weather events, including rainfall and bushfires.

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