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Professor Phil Bland. Source: Curtin Universtiy
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  • Australia’s first WA-grown satellite launches into space aboard a SpaceX Dragon rocket from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida
  • The satellite was built at Curtin University and marks the first step towards having a WA-built spacecraft at the Moon as early as 2025
  • Director of Curtin’s Space Science Technology Centre Phil Bland said the Binar Space Program plans to launch six more satellites over the next 18 months
  • Also onboard the SpaceX rocket was a satellite designed and built in Sydney as part of the CUAVA, which is partly funded by the Federal Government
  • Both satellites launched on the weekend are known as Cubesats: small, lightweight rectangular boxes packed full of high-tech equipment

Australia’s first WA-grown satellite was launched into space this weekend aboard a SpaceX Dragon rocket from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

The Binar-1 CubeSat, which was built at Curtin University in Western Australia and gets its name from the Noongar word for ‘fireball’, is now en route to the International Space Station, from where it will be released into orbit.

According to Curtin’s Space Science Technology Centre, this marks the first time a WA-built satellite has been launched into space.

Director of Curtin’s Space Science Technology Centre Professor Phil Bland said the Binar Space Program plans to launch six more satellites over the next 18 months, but this is still just the beginning.

“For context, in its history, our nation has only flown 15 Australian-build spacecraft,” Professor Bland said.

“Our novel design allows us to make spacecraft affordable and space accessible for WA innovators.”

Moreover, not only are the satellites being built in WA but space missions will be controlled and commanded from Perth through Fugro’s Australian Space Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Control Complex (SpAARC).

Professor Bland said the ultimate goal is to have WA-built spacecraft at the Moon as early as 2025.

“The launch of Binar-1 is our step towards that goal,” he said.

Once in orbit, the Binar-1 satellite will take images of stars and the WA coastline and relay them back to mission control on Earth.

Also onboard the SpaceX rocket was a satellite designed and built in Sydney as part of the Australian Research Council Training Centre for CubeSats, Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles, and their Applications (CUAVA), which is partly funded by the government.

Federal Education Minister Alan Tudge said the launch of the satellites is a “great display of Australian research on the world stage”.

“It is another example of the power of research commercialisation, with the Government’s $4.8 million in funding laying the foundation for researchers to partner with local and global businesses,” Minister Tudge said.

“This project is significant for the Australian space sector and will grow our research capability in the cutting-edge industry of commercial space and unmanned aerial vehicles.”

Both satellites launched on the weekend are known as Cubesats: small, lightweight rectangular boxes packed full of high-tech equipment.

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