Optimus, an Australian satellite with Indian connection reaches orbit

Optimus's unique taxi-style service capability in orbit (which it describes as 'roadside assistance in space') is pioneering technology which can ransform the economics of space infrastructure.

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In a significant stride for Australia’s burgeoning space industry, Space Machines Company (SMC) celebrated the successful launch of its Optimus satellite, marking Australia’s largest commercial satellite launch to date. The satellite, which aims to reduce space debris and extend the life of satellites, carries a payload of cutting-edge Australian technologies into orbit.

An interesting facet of this milestone launch is the Indian connection. Space Machines Company, headquartered in Australia, established its Research & Development office in Bangalore, India, in September 2022 after partnering with an Indian company, Ananth Technologies. This collaboration underscores the growing economic ties between India and Australia, particularly in space.

Australia’s High Commissioner to India, Philip Green, hailed the launch as a testament to the collaborative efforts between Australian and Indian firms in developing cutting-edge space technologies.

“Congratulations to SpaceMachinesCo for its maiden satellite launch. A great example of an Australian firm working in and with India to develop the techs that will extend the life of satellites & reduce space debris,” said Philip Green, OAM, on social media site X.

The Optimus satellite is an Orbital Servicing Vehicle (OSV) designed to provide life-extension services, inspections, and assistance to existing space infrastructure and satellites. Its unique taxi-style service capability in orbit (which it describes as ‘roadside assistance in space’) sets Optimus apart, allowing it to move other satellites to new positions physically. This pioneering technology holds promise for transforming the economics of space infrastructure.

“The successful launch of Optimus opens up new possibilities for how satellites are launched and operated. We believe it will transform the economics of space infrastructure,” said Rajat Kulshrestha, Space Machines Company CEO.

“As the foundational asset in our architecture of servicing vehicles designed to repair, refuel, upgrade and relocate other satellites, Optimus enables us to provide services to extend satellite lifetimes, reduce space debris and sustainably scale space activities,” he added.

The Optimus satellite, launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carries a suite of Australian payloads to advance space technology. These payloads include the HEO Robotics Holmes Imager, the Over The Rainbow hyperspectral imager from Esper, and the SE-1 edge computer from Spiral Blue, among others.

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