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AVALON 2023: Inovor Technologies prepares for busy 2023

Adelaide-based SME Inovor technologies is preparing for a busy 2023 says CEO Dr Matt Tetlow. The company is teamed with Lockheed Martin Australia on Defence’s Military Satellite Communications program, Joint Project 9102, which should be decided this month or next, once the Defence Strategic Review (DSR) is handed down.

The company has also been named as Airbus Defence & Space’s satellite integration partner on DSTG’s Resilient Multi-mission Space (RMS) STaR Shot program; this will see Airbus manufacture at least four satellite busses at a new manufacturing and integration centre in Adelaide. These will be used to carry a variety of Australian-developed military payloads into space. Inovor will work alongside SHOAL Group and Deloitte.

And its 6U Apogee satellite bus is to be used in three separate missions, says Tetlow. In the Buccaneer Main Mission (BMM), the company was selected after an open tender to provide the 6U bus, measuring 30cm x 20cm x 10cm and weighing just 8kg. This is scheduled to be launched by the US Department of Defense towards the end of 2023 and the BMM will be used to help calibrate the RAAF’s JORN radar by measuring the shape of the radar beam hitting the ionosphere at an orbital altitude of around 500km.

Also in calendar 2023, Inovor Technologies’ 6U bus will be the basis of the SA government’s Kaninyi cubesat. This is due for launch aboard a SpaceX launcher later in the year and will carry an Internet of Things (IoT) payload from Myriota along with the company’s own Earth Observation (EO) imaging system and a hyperspectral imaging camera, HyperScout 2, manufactured by Dutch firm cosine and modified by the SmartSat CRC to fit into the compact Inovor Technologies Apogee satellite bus.

At about the same time Kaninyi goes into orbit, Inovor Technologies expects the University of Melbourne’s SpIRIT nano-satellite, funded by the Australian Space Agency, to go into orbit as well. Standing for Space Industry-Responsive-Intelligent-Thermal, this satellite also uses Inovor’s 6U Apogee satellite bus  and will carry the HERMES gamme- and x-ray remote sensing payload developed with funding from the Italian Space Agency and the European Commission.

It will also incorporate the innovative Neumann Space Thruster, a novel high efficiency electric propulsion system, and three University of Melbourne-developed payloads: the Thermal Management Integrated System (theMIS) for precision temperature control of sensitive instrumentation; Mercury module for adaptive autonomous low-latency communications; and a Payload Management System designed to facilitate integration of complex instrumentation in off-the-shelf satellite platforms and carry out advanced data processing on-board.

The Neumann Drive selected for the Apogee satellite is Neumann Space’s CubeSat Product Class incorporating a Thruster Unit that contains Molybdenum as the solid metallic propellant. The propulsion system is based on the company’s patented pulsed cathodic arc thruster technology and is designed to be safer, storable fully fuelled and integrated, more efficient, and importantly more robust and easier to operate than other solutions currently on the market.

In 2019 Inovor Technologies won a $5.7 million Defence Innovation Hub Phase III contract to develop and deliver a prototype nanosatellite to enhance Space Domain Awareness (SDA) under Project Hyperion. The aim of this project is to put a constellation of 12U satellites, based on the Apogee bus, into Low Earth Orbit (LEO), looking out towards the Medium and Geostationary orbits (MEO and GEO) to observe and monitor spacecraft in these orbital bands. This will help expand Australia’s growing space capability and has the potential to support the global space surveillance network.

To pursue this, Inovor Technologies has integrated its Apogee bus with a new computer vision system developed with the Australian Institute for Machine Learning; the design and some of the ground testing was conducted under Phase III and the company is now looking to sign a Phase IV contract.

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