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'The University of Sydney is in space' - CubeSat success announced

19 April 2017
Australia launches tiny satellites in global project

INSPIRE-2 lead Professor Iver Cairns attended the global launch of the cube satellites, or cubesats, in Cape Canaveral, Florida, United States, in an historic project that marks Australia’s return to the space race.

Catalyst Australian cubesat feature

ABC television

Professor Iver Cairns

Professor Iver Cairns

The Australian cubesat INSPIRE-2, a project led by the University of Sydney, was launched today from the United States East Coast.

INSPIRE-2 project lead, University of Sydney Professor in Space Physics Iver Cairns, announced the successful first leg of the launch, from Cape Canaveral to the International Space Station. 

"Successful launch!! The University of Sydney is in space! All perfect," Professor Cairns reported back from the US.

"Deployment of our INSPIRE-2 cubesat from the ISS scheduled for 15 May."

INSPIRE-2 is a research and capacity-building project between the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales and the Australian National University. 

INSPIRE-2 carries five novel payloads, one from the QB50 project, three from the University of Sydney, and one from the University of New South Wales.

“These payloads will provide unique scientific data on Earth’s upper atmosphere (specifically the ionosphere and thermosphere) and space weather," Professor Cairns said this week as he was preparing to leave Australia for the launch. 

“They will also demonstrate new Australian technologies in space, specifically a `photonic lantern’ to study the spectrum of light from the Earth and other objects, plus a GPS receiver to study GPS signals reflected off the sea and refracted through the atmosphere.”

This is a major milestone in space research for INSPIRE-2 and Australia.

The global QB50 launch is the first launch of Australian built and operated cubesat spacecraft.

The cubesats were initially scheduled to be launched into space on 30 December 2016 from the east coast of the US and deployed from the International Space Station a month later as part of the QB50 project – a coordinated launch of 50 cubesats to conduct integrated space research studies.

“I’ve held INSPIRE-2 in my hands, built parts of it and put it into a ’shaker’ to simulate the stresses of launch," Professor Cairns said.

“The rocket carries many hopes and dreams with it, including our team’s desire to show that Australians can put novel, internationally competitive, cubesats and payloads into space and jumpstart a real Australian space program.” 

Vivienne Reiner

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