DIH Space Sector Spotlight: Progress on 3 Space Related Projects

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The Darwin Innovation Hub’s (DIH) continued work with Aliena, SPEE3D and Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) in space related projects has started to create value for the Northern Territory’s space sector. Australia’s Northern Territory is ideally placed to host key infrastructure and services for the global space industry, with competitive advantages in launch services, for rockets and stratospheric ballooning; ground stations and space technology development and testing.

The continued success of these projects helps validate the space sector in the Northern Territory. What we have done at DIH is recognise and help support a cross section of space related projects that we hope will add value to each other to further strengthen the Northern Territory space ecosystem, with a direct positive impact on indigenous partners as well.

NASA has signed a contract that will see their rockets and payloads being launched with ELA this year

DIH Space Projects

Equatorial Launch Australia Arnhem Space Centre, Nhulunbuy photographed September 2021

The Darwin Innovation Hub’s  Equatorial Launch Australia (ELA) saw 27 NASA personnel travel to Nhulunbuy to work for 40 days with their team at the Arnhem Space Centre. The scientists and ELA are working towards a 2022 sub-orbital sounding rocket launch campaign, which will see NASA sounding rockets take­-off from Arnhem Land.

ELA’s mission is to launch and recover objects flown to and from space by providing a flexible and responsive launch site and associated services. Equatorial launch offers rare efficiencies, the site can cater for all orbits, and all reliable technologies, providing sub-orbital and orbital access to space for commercial, research and government organisations. The secure site build includes utilities and facilities to meet the most stringent customer requirements, with payload integration, storage, and administration at the site.

Aliena deploys smallest satellite to host a hall thruster in-orbit

Smallest satellite space

DIH strategic partner Aliena hitches a ride aboard SpaceX Falcon 9 Transporrer-3 mission to space photographed Cape Canaveral, Florida – 13 January 2022

The CEO of Aliena and Space Expert-In-Residence to the Darwin Innovation Hub, Dr Mark Lim said the support from DIH and subsequent investment from the Paspalis Innovation Investment Fund allowed Aliena to rapidly commission a privately owned Jet Propulsion Test Facility in Singapore that led to the development and deployment of its 1st engines in space out of SpaceX’s Transporter-3 mission.

“We are so glad to leverage on the network and support provided through DIH to advance our business interests in both Singapore and Australia,” Dr Lim said. “The datasets obtained from the very-low-Earth-orbiting (VLEO) microsatellites will provide high value actionable insights for the industries of tomorrow. Specifically, to the NT, the datasets can be used for advanced crop monitoring for smart farms, fire detection for disaster mitigation and hazard response, and also for the security and defence sector.”

Dr Lim said the partnership also aims to pull together both industry and academic entities from Singapore and Northern Australia, through close working relations with Nanyang Technological University, and Charles Darwin University.

Aliena is a Singapore-based earth observation company that provides high resolution datasets from satellites flying closer to the earth, enabled by their proprietary plasma engines. Aliena made history on the 13th January 2022 by deploying their engines on the smallest satellite in-orbit to host such a propulsion system.

SPEE3D’s high-speed technology is set to revolutionise the Space Industry with a low-cost solution to mass produce metal 3D printed rocket engines in Australia

DIH Space Projects

17.9kg Copper Rocket Nozzle Liner metal 3D printed on a WarpSPEE3D machine

SPEE3D’s Chief Technical Officer Steven Camilleri believes the innovative approach of SPEE3D makes it ideal to be part of the developing space industry supply chain by building key components for space launch vehicles.

“SPEE3D Advanced Manufacturing technology is able to produce high quality metal parts in extremely short timeframes – something that is extremely valuable to the developing space industry,” he said.