Australian made Binar-1 satellite deployed into Low Earth Orbit

Low Earth Orbit

Image credit: Curtin University.

Western Australia’s homegrown spacecraft, Binar-1, has been deployed into Low Earth Orbit from the International Space Station (ISS), five weeks following its launch from Cape Canaveral in Florida. 

Curtin University’s Space Science and Technology Centre (SSTC) staff and students watched a live feed on 6 October as Binar-1 was placed into the tiny airlock of the Japanese Experiment Module Kibo on the ISS and sent into space. 

Binar-1 is now on a journey to make first contact before testing critical systems, collecting data and taking photographs from 400km above Earth. 

“The launch of WA’s first homegrown spacecraft on the Space-X rocket was exciting, but this moment and the coming few days are the really crucial points for our Binar Space Program and the team of staff and students who designed and built Binar-1 from scratch,” SSTC director Professor Phil Bland said. 

“We can’t wait to hear Binar-1’s ‘first words’ from space – that will be the time when we will be able to declare the success of our first space-mission and put us firmly on the path to proving that our technology can deliver. 

“That contact and the protocol testing that follow will set us up to achieve our aim of sending six more satellites into space over the next 18 months, and our ultimate goal of taking WA to the Moon by 2025.” 

With Binar-1 now safely in orbit, the team is focused on listening out for her ‘heartbeat’. 

“We built Binar-1 to communicate using Ultra High Frequency (UHF) radio signals which is the backbone of an exciting opportunity to engage both the ham radio community and STEM students,” Binar program manager Ben Hartig said. 

“We have been collaborating with amateurs around the world and local school groups, so that they are also able to listen to Binar-1 as it passes overhead. With the right equipment and antenna, anyone can hear Binar-1 when it makes contact. 

“But it will be our Curtin SSTC team who can decode the signal to tell us where Binar-1 is and how it is performing. The team will confirm all systems are working and then begin sending instructions for the next phase of its mission.” 

The deployment was made possible through Curtin University’s partnership with start-up Space BD Inc, which is the official service provider selected by JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency, in the area of ISS utilisation and satellite launch service. 

Testing the viability of Binar-1 in space, will be facilitated through Curtin’s alliance with remote operations specialists, Fugro, and their Space Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Robotics Control Complex (SpAARC). 

The Binar Space Program has been generously supported by a $500,000 state government to facilitate joint operations with the Fugro SpAARC facility, and advance a valuable outreach component to inspire young people in WA to pursue careers in STEM. It is also supported by the Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth (AROSE) consortium. 

Binar-1 will orbit 400km above Earth’s surface, about the distance from Perth to Albany, and circle the planet once every 90 minutes. Two small cameras on board will also capture images of WA’s coastline. 

Western Australians can re-watch the Binar-1 launch by visiting the Big Binar at WA Museum Boola Bardip and writing a message to space until 11 October. 

For more information on the journey of Binar-1 and the Binar Space program visit binarspace.com, or follow on Instagram and Facebook.