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iLAuNCH qualifying Optimus first-generation space transport and servicing platform

The iLAuNCH Trailblazer, located at the University of South Queensland, is helping qualify the Space Machines Company’s Optimus Platform for flight. The Optimus Platform is designed to deliver transport and service capabilities in orbit and is the largest satellite of its type being manufactured in Australia.

Designed to provide servicing and protection for vital in-space infrastructure, the Optimus transport and logistics platform must first pass rigorous test procedures to qualify for the space environment before heading to orbit in early 2024.

The iLAuNCH Trailblazer is bringing together cutting-edge space research and infrastructure of The Australian National University (ANU) enabled by the Institute for Space (InSpace), with the design process of Sydney-based Space Machines Company (SMC).

“For the entire history of space flight, we’ve launched our expensive technologically advanced satellites into orbit hoping they will survive for years, but totally unable to refuel or service them if problems occur,” said iLAuNCH Trailblazer Executive Director, Darin Lovett.

“This partnership to develop in-space transportation and logistics services opens a new global market opportunity while setting up enduring partnerships within the Australian space ecosystem.”

The Space Machines Company plans to deliver on-orbit servicing and protection of critical space infrastructure through its Orbital Servicing Network. The company supports mobility, inspection, deorbiting, repair, life extension, and protection capability to satellite customers when and where they need it. This project aims to space qualify the Optimus Platform at TRL 8 for flight readiness through the National Space Test Facility at ANU, the largest space testing infrastructure in Australasia.

“I am thrilled to support the experimental development of such an amazing mission. The Optimus Platform represents a game changer for Australia’s ambitions in space and the National Space Test Facility is at the forefront of this endeavour,” said Eduardo Trifoni, iLAuNCH Project Leader and Director of the National Space Test Facility.

The Australian-owned Space Machines Company aims to provide in-space transportation and servicing capabilities with multiple applications such as deployment of payloads to desired orbits, orbit raising, debris removal, repair and servicing and exploration missions.

Its founders believe the company could change the global space industry.

“Our business model delivers significant return on investment for satellite operators by providing a service like roadside assistance on Earth, but in orbit which improves the resilience and economics of satellite operations,” said George Freney, Co-founder of SMC.

“The Optimus platform is scalable and adaptable to the market. The iLAuNCH project helps us to mature its design, leveraging National Space Test Facility’s deep expertise in spacecraft prototype testing.”

The iLAuNCH project will showcase Australia’s sovereign capability on increasingly complex space platforms as they evolve, offering broader capacities for access to space.

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