5 mins read 22 Sep 2021

Space Machines Company partners with Fleet Space and Leaf Space

Space Machines Company has announced two major partnerships, Adelaide based Fleet Space and Italian based ground segment as a service company Leaf Space, which will support their ongoing development of their Optimus platform.  

Space Machines Company’s Optimus-1 will be ready for launch mid 2022. They already have a number of customers to support the program. Credit: Space Machines Company.

Space Machines Company (SMC) have announced that they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Adelaide-based Fleet Space Technologies to test the deployment of CubeSats, in addition to an agreement with Italian-based CubeSat service provider, Leaf Space.

Fleet Space and SMC have agreed to trial deployment options for their fleet, with the aim of speeding up the time to space, reducing the lead time for customers of Fleet’s industrial communication system for the Internet of Things (IoT). 

The partnership with Leaf Space will enable SMC to utilise the company’s Leaf Line solution, which will employ Leaf Space’s global ground station network to support the launch of its first Orbital Transfer Vehicle in 2022. 

This will enable SMC to have access to a worldwide network of ground stations, providing them with a monitoring solution ideal for in-orbit demonstrations, such as they have planned for Optimus-1 next year. Effective and precise ground services are an essential part of any launch, especially a complex demonstration mission. 

“We are developing our vehicle and making sure all the technical and commercial aspects of the mission are in place for the launch,” said Rajat Kulshrestha, Space Machines Company founder and CEO. 

“We have a launch partnership, a ground segment solution, several customers including HEO Robotics and Fleet Space, and a scientific partnership with CSIRO to test their flexible solar panels in space. We're very confident about the success of our first mission and the many more to come after that.”

“We are excited to announce this partnership with Space Machines Company as it highlights the growing need for precise in-space logistics as we see more and more satellites go into orbit, each with specific mission requirements,” said Jai Dialani, Managing Director at Leaf Space.

“Leaf Space is looking forward to providing our fast, reliable and flexible ground station solutions to support Space Machines Company’s Optimus-1 mission next year.” 

Speeding up satellite manufacturing times

The Fleet Space CubeSat, designed and build by Fleet provides IOT services to a number of industries. Credit: Fleet Space Technologies.

The MoU with Fleet Space to test the deployment capabilities of the Optimus platform will add further opportunities for this flexible orbital transfer vehicle. SMC announced earlier this year that the first vehicle, Optimus-1 will be used to test flexible solar panels developed by Australia’s national science agency, CSiRO and a camera developed by HEO

"Partnering with SMC will give us the option to speed up the build time of our space infrastructure, meaning our low-cost satellite-based communication system for Industrial IoT will be available to our customers sooner," said Fleet Space CEO Flavia Tata Nardini. 

This so-called “last-mile” cargo transport service that SMC are offering with the Optimus platform, aims to provide fast, precise and reliable access to different orbits, which is the exact service a company like Fleet requires to deliver its low-cost IoT satellites. 

Kulshrestha said the MoU is a "testament to the rapid growth of Australia's space industry and an opportunity to work with one of the most innovative companies in the country."

“Space Machines Company will assist Fleet Space in deploying a round of nanosatellites at the end of 2022 or the beginning of 2023, with [the] Optimus [platform] providing fast, precise and reliable access to different orbits, acting as a "last-mile" cargo transport service for our nanosatellites,” added Nardini.

According to Kulshrestha, it is a great time to be part of the Australian space industry.

“The development of space exploration is one of the greatest revolutions of our time. For any nation, the capability of exploring space by its own means will be crucial to fully enjoy all the benefits that will come with this revolution, from communication to security. We're incredibly proud of being part of this process and making it become a reality,” he said. 

“Our focus is to ensure all aspects of our first mission are in place for a flawless first launch in 2022. Together with the thriving and collaborative space community, we will continue to work on supporting the development of Australia’s sovereign space capability.” 

Nardini said of working with SMC, “Fleet Space was attracted to supporting a fellow South Australian business that can both strengthen the local space industry as well as keep costs lower through keeping partnerships local.”

Supporting Ground Services

Leaf Space provides ground segment as-a-service solutions to launch and satellite providers. This service can help cut the cost and complexity of space projects for start-ups and small companies. Credit: Leaf Space. 

Leaf Space is a ground segment as-a-service (GSaaS) provider, which is an emerging market within the international space industry. The growth of satellite deployments is leading to an increase in the support infrastructure required to manage and maintain them. GSaaS providers can support a variety of satellite projects, providing support to satellite operators as well as access to specific expertise and infrastructure that can be difficult and costly to develop.  

Leaf Space, who are based in Lomazzo Italy, began operations in 2014, and look to supply ground segment services to forward-thinking satellite and launch operators around the world. The company provides services throughout the project lifecycle, beginning with launch and early operations (LEOP), ongoing mission operations, and extending through decommissioning of the space asset.

Kulshrestha said this partnership is another critical step in preparing its first mission in 2022. “We are proud to partner with Leaf Space as it is an important step in furthering Australia’s sovereign capability and expanding our services globally.”

Leaf Space’s Leaf Line solution utilises a shared ground service network to provide flexible and standardised operations for start-up and small satellite users. 

“The global coverage provided by Leaf will ensure greater precision in our launch and subsequent work in orbit,” added Kulshrestha.