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Sperospace to launch robotic arm as part of Waratah Seed program

A Sydney-based SME will send a robotic arm into space in 2022 in an initiative paid for by the NSW government.

UNSW Graduate Bohan Deng’s business, Sperospace, creates robotic arms that can repair satellites in orbit. Next year’s space launch takes place under the aegis of the NW government’s Project Waratah Seed, a competitive program led by the Australian Research Centre for Cubesats, UAVs and their Applications (CUAVA) which aims to make space more accessible.

In 2022, NSW-based in-space logistics provider Space Machine Company will launch its first orbital transfer vehicle, Optimus-1, delivering commercial payloads onto their orbital paths around Earth and deeper into space. It will enter orbit using a Gilmour Space Technologies rocket.

Other Waratah Seed winners include:

  • Dandelions, led by Brian Lim, will launch new structural materials like hemp into space to test their effectiveness in a space environment
  • ExtraTerrestrial Power, led by Peter Toth, will test its solar cells based on terrestrial silicon technologies
  • Euroka Power, led by Anita Ho-Baillie, will test its highly efficient and radiation-tolerant next generation solar cell technology
  • Spiral Blue, led by Taofiq Huq, will test its innovative space edge computing solution to process images on satellites to enable close to real-time applications for earth observation data

Teams were selected following a competitive process involving feedback, mentoring sessions and pitches to a public audience of peers as well as a judging panel.

Investment NSW CEO Amy Brown said the five winners will receive “significant support” for a ride to space to test and prove components of their products.

“Waratah Seed is a NSW government funded satellite that will make product testing more accessible and affordable, quite literally taking space-related research and development to a new frontier,” Brown said.

“Supporting space startups to get their products market-ready not only helps build a thriving future industry in NSW, but also equips us with innovative new technologies to monitor carbon emissions, manage natural resources, support disaster response efforts and provide critical earth observation data to tackle problems here on earth.”

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