Several South Australian space companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), announcing an exciting collaboration that will explore launching a rocket and a spacecraft with an interfaced electronic warfare payload launched into space from a South Australian launch site.
The signing of the MOU between Southern Launch, ATSpace Australia, Asension (formerly DEWC Systems), and Inovor Technologies was witnessed by Defence SA Chief Executive Officer Mr Richard Price at the South Australian Aerospace and Information Warfare Forum in Adelaide.
Each company brings a unique capability to the collaborative exploration which is designed to showcase and test Australian-made space technologies with the goal of enabling sovereign capabilities for the Australian Defence Force.
The MOU will explore launching from Southern Launch’s Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex (WWOLC) near Port Lincoln in South Australia in which an ATSpace’s “Kestrel I” launch vehicle, a 10-metre, two-stage sub-orbital launch vehicle, will rocket off the launch pad to over 200 kilometres above Earth. Onboard will be a mission specific spacecraft designed and manufactured by Inovor Technologies. The Inovor Technologies spacecraft will interface with an electronic warfare payload designed and built by Asension. While approvals are still required from the Australian Space Agency, the mission is only being made possible through a collaborative effort, each company having its own mission goals.
For Inovor Technologies and Asension, the mission is providing an opportunity to collaborate on the technology required to interface the Asension electronic warfare payload with the Inovor-designed spacecraft and achieve flight heritage. Inovor Technologies will also be testing its communication protocols during the suborbital flight.
For Southern Launch and ATSpace, it will be another opportunity to gain further flight heritage for ATSpace’s Kestrel I launch vehicle from the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex, all in preparation of future orbital launch attempts.
Southern Launch’s Chief Executive Officer, Lloyd Damp, highlighted the importance of South Australian businesses working together to advance Australia’s sovereign capability. “This MOU brings four space companies together to develop an Australian first, a sovereign end-to-end space capability covering payload development, rocket manufacture, and launch into space,” Damp said. “This is a celebration of sovereign space capability realisation with all work to be done here in South Australia.”
Dr Yensen Chen, ATSpace’s founder and Chief Executive Officer, expressed his delight at working alongside other South Australian companies on this launch. “Space applications for business opportunities are growing fast in Australia,” said Chen. “Space launch capabilities developed at ATSpace and close collaborations with our partners are paving the way for enabling Australian access to space in a cost-effective and responsive manner.”
Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Inovor Technologies, Dr Matt Tetlow, said the collaboration heralded a new era within the Australian space industry. “The teamwork on display by the companies signing this MoU has been incredible,” Tetlow said. “This collaboration is providing multiple opportunities that are crucial to continue the upward trajectory of the Australian commercial space sector including gaining flight heritage and giving our talented engineers and staff the chance to be hands-on with and learn from a real local mission.”
Ian Spencer, CEO of Asension, also highlighted the coming together of and strength of the South Australian space industry. “In South Australia we are very fortunate to not only be home to the Australian Space Agency but to also have a growing ecosystem of space companies dedicated to the establishment and operation of a world class and sovereign space industry capability,” said Spencer. “The space industry community within South Australia is vibrant, strong and collaborative in nature – this launch will demonstrate the power of this ability to collaborate and rapidly deploy Australian payload to space in Australian spacecraft from Australian soil.”
The space launch is yet to be licensed by the Australian Space Agency.