The approach to achieve our research goals will supplement existing strengths and personnel with new expertise, to establish the critical engineering and scientific activities through which regular in-orbit space research capability can be created and continued.
There is no intention to reinvent the wheel. COTS cubesats and ground-station systems and cubesat launch service providers will form inputs to UNSW Canberra’s effort.
In parallel, and in collaboration with strategic partners where advantageous, we are : assembling the talent pool; performing the engineering required to put cubesats into orbit, as an enabling capability; and developing the science, the instrumentation and the formation flying technology for those cubesats, to enable in-orbit research of national significance to be performed within a 6 year time frame.
Thus the critical activities are:
- Engineering – the basic enabling activities for regular in-orbit research
- Assembly and development of a satellite flight team
- Acquisition, payload integration, software development and test & evaluation of COTS cubesats
- Satellite launch (piggy-back launch opportunities, while maintaining a view towards dedicated nanosat launch service providers)
- Space operations (ground station access and control)
- Research – the in-orbit (and supporting ground-based) science and innovations
- Space Situational Awareness (high-fidelity spacecraft/debris aerodynamics; advanced orbit propagation/astrodynamics; leading to and informed by improved space surveillance)
- Advanced Instrumentation (ground-based for surveillance/tracking; space-based for in-orbit measurements)
- Satellite formation flying (inter-satellite communications; autonomous formation-flying Guidance, Navigation & Control (GNC))
- Space technology development (innovative propulsion, structures, thermal control and mission concepts, with ground-based simulation and test)