Ibadan, 9 February 2024. – SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre (SmartSat) is backing innovative research to develop end-to-end Australian capabilities in In-orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing (ISAM), in a project underwritten by a total investment of $ 2.3 million.
SmartSat’s research partner, the University of Sydney, will be leading the new project, which will develop robotic satellite technologies to reliably connect with other satellites to perform in-orbit repairs and maintenance. NSW-based industry partners Abyss Solutions, ANT61, Space Machines Company, Sperospace, and Spiral Blue will also support the research project.
Servicing satellites in orbit is challenging due to harsh space conditions, the potential risk of damaging expensive assets through collision during docking, and difficulties maintaining stability during maintenance. As a result, this project will address the gaps between autonomous robotic systems and the requirements of real-time, reliable close proximity operations. Uniquely, the project will bring all four key technology areas into one research project, ensuring an end-to-end approach to addressing these complex challenges.
The ISAM project will address four areas of research; High-level, AI-driven on-board automation, Advanced sensing, Fault-tolerant relative navigation system, and Safe control strategy for reactionless control. The collective goal is to build and demonstrate on-ground an end-to-end software stack for these four advanced autonomy technologies into a single working code repository suitable for deployment onto future satellites.
Speaking on the project, SmartSat CRC Chief Executive Officer Professor Andy Koronios said, “Research into ISAM technologies is critical for Australia to help our local industry join the emerging global supply chain in this increasingly important field.” He also added, “This project will develop key autonomy technologies needed by the Australian space industry to be competitive in the global ISAM business.”