Australia’s Skykraft and project partner XTEK, have been awarded the Australian Space Agency’s International Space Investment: Expand Capability grant that will fully fund the design and qualify a launch stack system that deploys constellations of up to 30 so-called “SmallSats” into low-earth orbit from low-cost rockets. The launch certification and validation will be carried out in collaboration with New Space India who are the commercial provider of India’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV). The amount of the grant was not disclosed.

The award of the grant through XTEK’s partnership with Skykraft validates the advantages for XTEK’s composite design capabilities and manufacturing technology, and strengthens the company’s view that the space sector presents a compelling opportunity to further commercialise its XTclave technology, the companies said.

XTEK is now working on a lightweight carbon fibre launch structure that will be manufactured using its XTclave composite curing technology and delivered from its manufacturing facility in South Australia. XTEK can minimise the weight of the launch system while still retaining rigidity and strength. The launch system is to be fabricated using high-quality, void-free, lightweight structural composite material suited for space applications.

Philippe Odouard, XTEK managing director. (PHOTO: XTEK)

XTEK Managing Director Philippe Odouard said: “The award of this grant represents a significant milestone for XTEK’s composite capabilities. The recognition from the Australian government and global collaboration provides external validation of our technology and presents a valuable opportunity to further develop our advanced composites capabilities for space applications, with this project expected to further build our presence in the growing space composites sector globally.”

Skykraft Managing Director James Prior said: “A critical factor in any launch is the weight of the spacecraft and the launch systems used to release the spacecraft into orbit. Our focus is to optimise this balance and achieve weight savings, while still retaining rigidity and strength, and so we are very pleased to be partnering with XTEK to utilise their advanced design and manufacturing capabilities through the XTclave technology.”

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