Named for the brightest star in the Southern Cross, ACRUX-1 will be the first satellite launched by the Melbourne Space Program, with the launch planned for 2018.
Unlike larger satellites, nano-satellites such as this are uniquely suited for our long-term vision; their small size facilitates rapid and inexpensive prototyping, which can then be integrated into Earth-wide aperture mesh networks.
The CubeSat (nano-satellite) is a light satellite that is small and robust, and used primarily to gather and transmit data. It is defined by the weight class of 1kg – 10kgs, utilised in various industries with the advantage of being significantly cheaper than a heavier craft. Unlike larger satellites, the CubeSat’s small size facilitates frequent inexpensive prototyping for future innovation, and improves the capability for the satellite to target specific problems because of the cost reduction in development and launch.
Over the next five years, the Melbourne Space Program plans to construct and operate a mesh telecommunications network of satellites that relays information to and from space to earth communication nodes, for the purpose of monitoring or recording topic-specific data (the topic is yet to be prescribed).
The organisation will achieve this by launching a series of CubeSat satellites – each of which will become progressively more complex and whose development will carry over and scale onto the next.
The aim of launching the first of these satellites, ACRUX-1, is to demonstrate the organisation’s capability to successfully build and integrate the foundational subsystems that all future satellites will incorporate.
The advancement of nano-satellite technology is critical to the advancement and proliferation of space activity on a consumer level. By positioning this organisation to be on the forefront of that innovation, MSP is assisting all associated organisations in realising a more robust and technologically advanced space industry in Australia.