Professor Iver Cairns, Director of the ARC Training Centre for CubeSats, UAVs and their Applications at the University of Sydney, has announced that Saber Astronautics has been awarded the satellite operations contract which will provide essential flight software, satellite integration and mission control support for the inaugural flight of a CUAVA satellite.
Saber Astronautics will provide three months of continual spacecraft operations of CUAVA-1 from their mission control centres in Sydney, Australia and Boulder, Colorado. Saber Astronautics will also support the CUAVA partners by providing training on new methods of space operations.
Professor Cairns said: “This is a very exciting opportunity for both CUAVA and Saber Astronautics. Together we are going to develop a spacecraft control, data management and ground-station solution that links to our new spacecraft software.
“This could also provide a template for many future Australian space projects. It is an example of two Australian entities coming together to develop an Australian solution to a global problem”.
CUAVA-1 will carry instruments developed by CUAVA research teams across multiple academic, government and industry organisations. Payloads also include potentially marketable products from local Australian suppliers that have never flown before.
Saber Astronautics CEO, Dr Jason Held, said the challenges ahead come with rewards.
“CubeSats are small, susceptible to damage and prone to failure so the willingness to take a risk and learn-by-trying is what innovation is all about,” Dr Held said. “The reward is high because a successful flight will qualify several new Australian products for the space industry. That’s exciting.”
This partnership will also work on ground-station development, which will help pave the way forward for standardised operations for multiple Australian and international spacecraft.
“We encourage amateur radio operators around the world to tune in and receive data from CUAVA-1,” Saber’s lead avionics engineer Andreas Antoniades said. “Our infrastructure will allow for maximum international engagement and increases the chances for successful downlink, particularly in the first few days of launch”.
Officially opened by Senator Arthur Sinodinos on 17 June 2019, CUAVA aims to rapidly improve Australian CubeSat technology and form a primary part of Australia’s future space development.
Key projects include research that has commercial potential in the small satellite market, such as plasma thrusters, high speed communication and snap-together CubeSat systems.
CUAVA is also focused on novel, miniature, world-leading imagers for satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles, as well as variable spacecraft drag devices based on Saber’s ‘DragEN Deorbit Tether’ technology.