3 mins read 15 Dec 2020

Australian Space Industry Aiming for CubeSat Moon Mission

Australia’s first sovereign mission to the Moon is starting to come together, with a number of Australian space industry companies and stakeholders joining forces to achieve the mission by 2024.

Credit Kev Chapman/Flickr.

A consortium of companies and stakeholders from the Australian space industry are coming together to launch Australia’s first sovereign-developed mission to the Moon, by the year 2024. The mission, which envisions two CubeSats developed by Australian teams, are expected to be sent into Lunar orbit by the middle of the decade – opening up Australia’s direct commercial, scientific and educational access to Lunar space.

The Lunar Ascent project was announced earlier this month and is being spearheaded by Australian start-up, Space Machines Company which aims to develop in-space transportation capabilities, and the ability to place small satellite assets into a variety of different orbits (including Lunar).

Space Machines Company was started in 2019 by co-founders Rajat Kulshrestha and George Freney, establishing a base at the Stone & Chalk start-up hub at Lot Fourteen in Adelaide, which is where a number of space-related start-ups have been working from, and also includes the headquarters of the Australian Space Agency.

“Lunar Ascent will use an innovative and cost-effective in-space transportation platform being developed by us to deploy nanosatellites in Lunar Orbit,” said CEO and Co-Founder Rajat Kulshrestha.

“This mission will demonstrate sovereign capabilities in building, testing and developing technology for deep space missions.”

Lunar Ascent has already received support and commitments of involvement from other Australian-based space companies, such as Saber Astronautics, Inovor Technologies and Sitael Australia to name a few. The project is currently running their consultation phase across the industry, with the mission scheduled to be officially launched in March 2021.

Partnering with the consortium is financial giant Deloitte, who have been actively working with the Australian space industry over the last few years.

“Lunar Ascent will develop a truly Australian journey to the Moon.” Said Rob Hillard, Deloitte Asia Pacific Chief Transformation Officer. “Lunar Ascent promotes and supports the Australian space industry to participate in the space economy through partnerships on Lunar missions.”

“This is also a mission to inspire the nation, to encourage Australians to be bold in pursuing lofty goals and to leave a positive legacy for years to come through the space know-how developed.”

The project has also received support and praise from both the Premier of South Australia, Steven Marshall MP, as well as the federal Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney, Stuart Ayres, MP.

The Lunar Ascent mission has outlined several mission goals as part of its strategy, which includes a national mission that is aligned to industry and government objectives, whilst also helping to establish and open more space supply chains with other industries.

The two CubeSats are also a planned payload of 60 kg being delivered (successfully) into Lunar orbit by 2024, and the company also hopes that this inspires the Australian space community to become more engaged in space-related activities.

Recently, Space Machines Company also announced that they will be the first commercial customer for Gold-Coast based Gilmour Space Technologies, with the two companies signing an agreement to use Gilmour’s Eris rocket, to deliver a 35 kg payload into Earth orbit.

An overview video of the Lunar Ascent mission briefing can be watched online via Vimeo.