The Space Industry Responsive Intelligent Thermal (SpIRIT) nanosatellite has achieved orbit, marking an unprecedented milestone for Inovor Technologies and Australian space capabilities.
The SpIRIT nanosatellite was successfully launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 4:49am on 30th November and is now in its sun-synchronous orbit around 550 kilometres above the earth.
The 30cm long satellite deployed solar panels and thermal radiators that make it nearly a metre long in space. The team was able to make connections with the satellite in less than 6 hours after deployment.
SpIRIT is a space exploration endeavour led by the Melbourne Space Laboratory at the University of Melbourne with the co-operation of the Italian Space Agency and the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics. It is the first ever Australian satellite that has been funded by the Australian Space Agency that hosted an international payload. The Australian Space Agency has provided nearly $7 million for the mission in grant funding. This mission was made possible with the collaboration of many Australian industry partners, including Inovor Technologies, Neumann Space, Sitael Australia, and Nova Systems.
The launch party on the 8th of December was attended by the Governor of South Australia: Her Excellency the Honourable Frances Adamson AC, The Premier’s office : Member of Legislative Council, The Hon Justin Hanson MLC, Senator the Hon David Fawcett, Head of the Australian Space Agency: Enrico Palermo, and the teams from Inovor Technologies, and Neumann Space. This occasion was also attended by industry friends and supporters of Inovor and Neumann: NOVA Systems, DSTG, Southern Launch, Asension, Lockheed Martin Australia, SmartSat CRC, Myriota, and others.
“SpIRIT is more than a satellite, it’s a testament to what we can achieve when we dream big. Our team, which includes over 50 brilliant engineers, have worked tirelessly to reach this point, and in the grand scheme of things we are just getting started.”
– Ben Adams, COO of Inovor Technologies
Preparing the satellite for launch involved a meticulous process encompassing complex design reviews, manufacturing of platform components, and an extensive testing campaign. Rigorous tests were conducted at the unit, subsystem, platform, and spacecraft levels to ensure that the satellite had working solar panels, batteries, electronic power system, attitude determination control system, GPS, radios, payload integration, antenna deployers and more. This exhaustive series of approximately 400 tests helped ensure the satellite platform’s adherence to the mission and project requirements, survival during launch, and the ability to withstand extreme environments, including extreme temperatures. Working in collaboration with Neumann Space, the robustness of the satellite along with the Neumann drive was further validated through more environmental testing, vibration testing, and functional testings.
“For the mission design phase, we actively collaborated with Inovor in a very transparent manner, ensuring a very smooth integration and test campaign.”
– James Robertson, Mechanical & Thermal Engineer at Neumann Space
Multinational and Local Collaboration is Key
SpIRIT is the first Australian satellite to carry an international partner’s scientific instrument as its main payload. The Italian Space Agency’s HERMES x-ray detector payload is designed to search for gamma rays from the death or collision of stars. SpIRIT is a part of a network of six satellites which will make a satellite constellation to carry out the HERMES Scientific Pathfinder Constellation mission.
The University of Melbourne’s own instruments are also integrated into the satellite. These include a thermal management system TheMIS for active cooling and temperature control of sensitive instrumentation and the Mercury module with transceivers for communication.
Furthermore, a lightweight and efficient solar electric propulsion system is provided by Inovor’s next door neighbour and key partner, Neumann Space. The ion thruster uses Centre-Triggered Pulsed Cathodic Arc Thruster (CT-PCAT) technology, which uses a solid conductive fuel rod to produce plasma, to provide thrust.
Nova System’s ground segment support will facilitate operation requests, manage user priority levels, and make decisions about the tasking of multi-band and multi-network satellite communications. This will be done through the Autonomous Intelligent Ground Station System near Peterborough, South Australia.
With the help of Inovor’s satellite platform, the payloads now have a chance to test their instruments and carry out their tasks in orbit. This achievement underscores Inovor’s commitment to excellence in the industry, demonstrating the successful fusion of cutting-edge technology, precision engineering, and collaborative innovation.
“The SpIRIT spacecraft has a highly complex set of payloads requiring an extensive assurance and test program. We are now able to offer to the market our apogee satellite bus with an integrated Neumann drive.” – Dr. Matt Tetlow, CEO of Inovor Technologies
Collaborative efforts like those between Inovor and its partners are crucial contributors to success in the space industry. Reach out to learn how we can help you send your own satellite into space, whether it be for space exploration, scientific experimentation, space situational awareness, or something completely different.
Find out more about future missions at Inovor Technologies, including the next mission – Kanyini, on Inovor’s website.
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