4 minute read

Introducing Space Machines Company: Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle (OTV)

By Helene Baron, Strategic Business Development, Space Machines Company

Imagine you could travel from point A to point B, say from LA back home in Sydney or Paris, with your car, without worrying about the logistics: having your seat secured for you on the plane, and your car on a cargo hold, ready to go when you land.

Now, imagine the same thing in space, getting your payload delivered precisely where you want, with someone taking care of all the logistics, transports, launch and orbit transfer? It is happening now and it is just the beginning…

Space Machines Company (SMC) is an Australian owned business with a goal and vision to build democratised transport and logistics services for space. In achieving this, SMC is developing a robust in-space logistics network that powers the Space economy, to provide reliable, versatile, and cost-effective in-space transportation services.

SMC’s Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle (OTV), one of the largest commercial satellites designed, manufactured and assembled in Australia, has multiple applications: deployment of payloads to desired orbits, inclination changes, orbit raising (LEO to MEO, LEO to GEO and GTO to GEO), servicing (inspection and maintenance, life extension) and exploration missions (cislunar and interplanetary).

Its development and implementation will be a major step forward in increasing Australia’s sovereign space capabilities.

SMC is the only Australian organisation focussed on in-space transportation and logistics, a key foundation service required for Earth Orbits, Lunar transport and beyond. Just as different modes of transportation and logistics have unlocked tremendous economic value on earth, SMC believes that in-space transportation is next. SMC’s capability provides a foundation service for lunar and Martian exploration and is a fundamental input for Australian Access to Space.

Space will increasingly need infrastructure and logistics services to support and manage the exponential growth in satellites and debris around the globe. SMC's development of a local space logistics capacity is critical to ensuring Australia can meet this growing challenge and manage its satellites in space.

SMC provides support for missions as follows:

- Commercial: constellation deployments in LEO, Transfers to GEO for Telecommunications, Life Extension, Debris Management and more.

- Government: supporting the transportation requirements for strategic assets deployments and sovereign capability missions.

- Research and Science: from a nanosatellite constellation for detecting bushfires on Earth to delivering mapping satellites to the Moon.

- Launch Services Providers: providing OEM transport solutions to help Launchers deliver customer missions whilst providing a cost effective and robust last mile transport capability.

SMC’s ‘Roll Out’ mission in Q2 2023 will be supported by SpaceX as its launch provider. SMC will test the capability of its 270 kg Optimus OTV to deliver in-space logistics services and will reinforce SMC’s capability as a last-mile services provider. The 2023 mission will also see SMC obtain flight qualification and test solutions for multiple Australian payloads and customers.

Space Machines has offices and facilities in Adelaide and in Sydney, where the engineering team started the Assembly, Integration and Testing (AIT) of Optimus at UTS Tech Lab. For instance, a 65sqm ISO 8 Clean room was just commissioned at the Tech Lab, where SMC’s first vehicle is being assembled.

The development of the joint project is part of a broader focus for UTS Tech Lab to enhance the space ecosystem for start-ups, SMEs and large national or international organisations.

The UTS Tech Lab is currently in the process of adding nearly 5,500sqm of additional office and warehouse that will enable multi-company projects to be undertaken in close proximity to one another and also with external partners.

Space will increasingly need infrastructure and logistics services to support and manage the exponential growth in satellites and debris around the globe. SMC's development of a local space logistics capacity is critical to ensuring Australia can meet this growing challenge and manage its satellites in space.

Additionally, SMC’s recently inaugurated its office in Bangalore, India. Ideally located close to the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)’s test facility - ISITE, this new headquarters where a growing team of 10 staff is leading the Research & Development Department of the company, has been instrumental in the development of Space Machines’ first mission and will be key in the development of further collaboration between Australia and India.

For more information, please visit: spacemachines.co