4 mins read 06 Sep 2021

NSW launches CUAVA-1 Satellite into Orbit

The CUAVA has just launched their first satellite, CUAVA-1, to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX rocket, to be deployed into orbit later this year and commence its operations.

An artist’s impression of the CUAVA-1 satellite in orbit. Credit: CUAVA Training Centre.

The first satellite from the ARC Training Centre for CubeSats, UAVS and their Applications (CUAVA Training Centre) has been successfully launched. The satellite, CUAVA-1, was launched by SpaceX at the end of August on-board a cargo resupply mission for the ISS. CUAVA-1 is a 3U CubeSat that carries four experimental payloads and is expected to be deployed into orbit from the ISS later this year. 

CUAVA-1 was developed by the New South Wales-based CUAVA Training Centre with support from the University of New South Wales (UNSW)  and the University of Sydney (USyd). Mission control will be managed by Australian company Saber Astronautics through the new Responsive Space Operations Centre (RSOC) in Adelaide. 

The goals of the CUAVA-1 over its year-long mission include linking with the international radio amateur union for education and outreach and to test several experimental payloads. The payloads were developed by UNSW, The University of Sydney, and Macquarie University. 

Professor Iver Cairns, Director of the CUAVA Training Centre, commented on the importance of this mission.  

“[the CUAVA-1 mission] shows that Australian universities are at the forefront of our emerging national space industry. 

“Our CUAVA Training Centre is leading in the development of near-Earth space technology and is a critical link in training the next generation of space engineers and scientists.” 


Payloads Featured in the CUAVA-1 CubeSat

The components of the CUAVA-1 satellite. Credit: CUAVA Training Centre.

The University of Sydney developed ISTI (Imager, Spectrograph, and TinyTol Instrument) for the CUAVA-1 satellite. Professor Cairns commented on the TinyTol Instrument earlier this year. 

“It is a pathfinder for a larger independent satellite mission, Toliman, to study the Alpha Centauri star system as part of the Breakthrough Watch program,” said Professor Cairns.

“The TinyTol telescope will demonstrate a cutting-edge astrometry technique for the first time in space - the long term aim is to use the linked diffraction patterns for 2 binary stars to look below / underneath these patterns and look for exoplanets,” he continued. The University of Sydney also developed the Radiation Detector with integrated Power Over Databus for CUAVA-1. 

UNSW’s payload for CUAVA-1 is the KEA GPS Instrument, which will explore radio occultation, the study of how a radio wave is impacted as it travels through the ionosphere and thermosphere. Macquarie University’s payload on-board the satellite is their RUSH (Reconfigurable Systems for Space) which is designed to demonstrate and validate new approaches to rapid recovery from radiation-induced SEUs (single event upsets) using off-the-shelf hardware.

The successful launch and deployment of the CubeSat will see all of these first-generation payloads tested in-flight in the near future. 

The Waratah Seed Campaign

Credit: CUAVA Training Centre.

CUAVA’s next upcoming project is the Waratah Seed CubeSat. Funded by the NSW government, Waratah Seed will be the first Australian rideshare satellite and the first Australian-built industry and commercially–focused 6U satellite. The project will launch NSW-developed space technology into orbit to test and prove the functionality of a variety of payloads. 

The payloads for this project will be selected using two methods. These will be selected among commercial clients from industry, academia, and government, taking up a total of 3U of the CubeSat. The other payloads will be selected through a competition, which will run among all NSW space industry-led teams, startups and SMEs. Up to five winners from this competition will be selected for a total of 1.5U of the satellite. 

The payloads for the Waratah Seed CubeSat will be selected by October 2021 for launch in September 2022.