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Optimus satellite launch marks a new era for Australia and satellite servicing
File illustration of Optimus-1.
Optimus satellite launch marks a new era for Australia and satellite servicing
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Mar 05, 2024

Space Machines Company announced the successful launch of Optimus, Australia's most significant private satellite to date, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California at 9:05 AM AEDT, March 5th.

This launch marks a critical step for Space Machines Company, introducing Optimus as its inaugural Orbital Servicing Vehicle (OSV) and laying the foundation for the firm's future satellite servicing infrastructure.

Following its departure during the Transporter-10 mission, Optimus, a 270-kilogram satellite, will focus on reaching its orbital slot to commence a full testing campaign. The satellite's launch not only represents a milestone for Australia's sovereign space capabilities but also underscores Space Machines Company's dedication to innovating satellite launch and operational processes domestically.

Optimus stands as the first Australian commercial satellite to provide life-extension services, inspections, and on-orbit assistance to existing space infrastructure, heralding a new era in space sustainability.

"The successful launch of Optimus opens up new possibilities for how satellites are launched and operated. We believe it will transform the economics of space infrastructure," said Rajat Kulshrestha, CEO of Space Machines Company. As a key asset in the company's servicing vehicle architecture, Optimus aims to extend satellite lifetimes, reduce space debris, and enable sustainable scaling of space activities.

Space Machines Company has plans to expand its Orbital Servicing Vehicle fleet, seeking partnerships both locally and internationally to demonstrate new servicing capabilities. This vision for robotic satellites supporting space infrastructure moves closer to realization with the launch of Optimus.

The mission has attracted support from industry and academic partners. Xavier Orr, CEO and Co-Founder of Advanced Navigation, praised Optimus for demonstrating the Boreas X90's precise navigation capabilities.

Daniel Faber, Founder and CEO of Orbit Fab, highlighted the mission's significance for cooperative refueling in space, facilitated by Orbit Fab's fiducial markers providing crucial orientation data. Contributions also come from CSIRO, with Dr. Anthony Chesman mentioning the launch of Australian-made flexible solar cells for orbit testing, and from HEO and the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), emphasizing the collaboration's role in advancing the Australian space sector.

The successful launch of Optimus by Space Machines Company represents not only a technological achievement but also a strategic enhancement of Australia's capabilities in space. It sets a precedent for future missions aimed at making space operations more sustainable and efficient, positioning Australia as a significant player in the global space industry.

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