Valiant Space, a Brisbane-based propulsion company, has been awarded a $200,000 grant as part of the Australian Space Agency’s Moon to Mars Initiative, to develop Australia’s first in-space chemical thruster for its flight to space onboard a Skykraft satellite.
Valiant Space has partnered with Skykraft, an Australian space services company, to conduct the feasibility study of a joint demonstration mission.
The mission under investigation, named the Fast-Acting Space Transportation (FAST) Demonstrator Mission, will pioneer several key capabilities for the Australian space industry.
“This is not just a win for Valiant, but also for Australia,” Valiant Space CEO and co-founder Andrew Uscinski said.
“In-space thrusters have proven crucial to the success of other space-faring nations, so growing this capability here in Australia will unlock a lot of opportunity for our space industry.”
The feasibility study will investigate and de-risk crucial elements of the proposed mission, including testing and qualifying Valiant Space’s thruster to prepare it for spaceflight.
Additionally, the study will develop concepts for deep-space missions out to the Moon, Mars and beyond.
In-space chemical thrusters are required for a wide range of manoeuvres including for orbit insertion, maintenance, collision avoidance and de-orbiting. These are critical to conducting high value commercial and scientific missions around asteroids, the Moon and Mars, while decreasing downtime for satellites in Low Earth Orbit.
“Our thrusters will provide high-thrust, low-cost, and non-toxic propulsion options for the small satellite market,” Valiant Space CTO and co-founder Michael Douw said.
“Being awarded this grant is a strong signal from the government of its intent to invest in Australia’s future space capability.”
The space industry has traditionally relied heavily on carcinogenic propellants for high-thrust propulsion. But by using non-toxic and readily available propellants, Valiant Space aims to greatly improve safety and reduce logistical complexities associated with launching satellites to space.