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Collaboration to enable launch of largest Australian-built spacecraft

Australian-Indian in-space servicing firm, Space Machines Company, has signed a landmark Launch Service Agreement with NewSpace India Limited (NSIL) at Space Congress 2024 that sets the stage for the launch of the second 450 kg Optimus spacecraft.

This pioneering collaboration aims to strengthen the ties between international space sectors and demonstrate a shared commitment to sustainable space operations.

In April 2024, Space Machines Company announced that the Space MAITRI project had received an $8.5 million grant from the Australian Government. 

The mission, scheduled for launch on NSIL’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) in 2026, represents a significant milestone in the strategic partnership, fostering closer ties between commercial, institutional, and governmental space organisations of both nations.

“It is terrific to see this historic launch agreement signed here today between Space Machines and NewSpace India Limited. Australia and India are important strategic and natural partners in the space sector; an inherently global industry,” said the high commissioner of India, Philip Green OAM.

Head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, said the agreement is an important step towards enhancing Australia’s space heritage and strengthening our relationship with India.

By focusing on debris management and sustainability, the mission aligns with the core values and objectives of both countries, promoting responsible space operations and mitigating the growing threat of space debris.

“As a Launch service provider for the Optimus spacecraft, we are not only fostering the growth of our respective space industries but also contributing to the sustainable exploration and utilisation of space,” said NSIL chairman and managing director, Radhakrishnan Durairaj.

The Space MAITRI mission involves several Australian and Indian partner companies collaborating with Space Machines Company.

These include Digantara, Ananth Technologies, the University of Adelaide, the University of Sydney, the University of Technology Sydney, LeoLabs, Advanced Navigation, and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

Through collaboration, Space Machines Company, NSIL, and mission partners will spearhead the development of solutions to mitigate space debris, raise global awareness, and revolutionise in-space services, ensuring the long-term sustainability of space.

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