27 Sep 2023
Research Update

Satellite engineers come together in the SpIRIT of collaboration

27 Sep 2023

The Australian sovereign satellite design and build capability is a small but growing element of our national space industry and is a critical element in supporting our economic, environmental management and Defence & National Security. Missions such as the South Australian Space Services Mission satellite Kanyini and the University of Melbourne’s SpIRIT (Space Industry – Responsive – Intelligent – Thermal) satellite are fundamental to building the space work force, skills and experience needed to support the increasing complex space missions being introduced in Australia. It is well known that ‘space is hard’, and this is particularity true for small teams building capability and experience in space.

Satellite engineers from the University of Melbourne take the SpIRIT Satellite, sealed in a sterile container, out of the clean room environment for testing.

A significant challenge faced by spacecraft, particularity small spacecraft, is operating in the temperature extremes of space. Complex modelling is needed to validate a spacecraft design considering the numerous orbital scenarios to ensure the critical systems don’t get too cold or hot. In this case, the SpIRIT team supported the thermal modelling and analysis of the Kanyini flight configuration. The Kanyini thermal analysis activity brought together SpIRIT team members from the University of Melbourne and Kanyini team members from Inovor Technologies, Myriota, SmartSat CRC and the Australian Space Agency; a great outcome in building the knowledge in this area.

The SpIRIT satellite was recently sent to Australia’s National Space Test Facility, located at the Australian National University campus in Canberra to conduct thermal vacuum and vibration testing. In order to meet their challenging schedule, the Kanyini team assisted with hardware to support the space environment of SpIRIT in Canberra. Launch dates and access to test facilities typically have very limited flexibility to change and the impact of missing these can have very significant cost and schedule impacts.

Peter Nikoloff
Kanyini Mission Director