News

School of Physic takes INSPIRE-ing first step towards satellite launch.



11 December 2012

A team lead by Professor Iver Cairns from the School of Physics has successfully launched a test satellite payload on a weather balloon.

The team includes many staff and students from the faculties of Physics and Engineering and aims to be the first completely university student satellite launched in Australia.

The i-INSPIRE nano-satellite is a Sydney University collaboration with plans to launch into space in 2013. The antenna seen here is made from metal measuring tape. This makes it very easy to cut to the correct length.
The i-INSPIRE nano-satellite is a Sydney University collaboration with plans to launch into space in 2013. The antenna seen here is made from metal measuring tape. This makes it very easy to cut to the correct length.

i-INSPIRE stands for initial Integrated Spectrograph Imaging and Radiation Explorer and through leadership and expertise from the University of Sydney, will demonstrate satellite capability, novel instrumentation, global radiation and space weather and spectrograph radiation testing.

Professor Iver Cairns, intermediate year coordinator and leader of the i-INSPIRE team said "We are happy to report a successful balloon test to 27 km altitude for the University of Sydney's i-INSPIRE spacecraft with the aid of Project Horus, experts in high latitude balloon launches. The test occurred on Sunday 25 November 2012 near Adelaide on the engineering model of i-INSPIRE.

The payload weighed less than 700 gm in mass, i-INSPIRE carries a fully photonic spectrograph Nanospec, an imager, and multiple satellite subsystems. A full set of Nanospec and imager data was obtained via the spacecraft's successful autonomous operation. i-INSPIRE continued to transmit its beacon and take data even after landing.

Professor Tim Bedding, Head of the School of Physics said "Congratulations to everyone involved in i-INSPIRE, this is an important milestone for a very exciting project."

Professor Bland-Hawthorn from the Astrophotonics group said "The successful balloon launch is a small, but crucial, step in convincing our international collaborators that we are able to design and build instruments that can operate at extreme altitudes.

The i-INSPIRE nano-satellite is launched on a weather balloon seen here with other experiments from the University of Sydney and Project Horus.
The i-INSPIRE nano-satellite is launched on a weather balloon seen here with other experiments from the University of Sydney and Project Horus.

i-INSPIRE's balloon flight, which was Project Horus's 30th flight, also carried a University of Sydney materials science payload (Drs Alexey Kondyurin and Marcela Bilek), and advanced GPS tracking systems developed by Project Horus.

"We have close collaborations with NASA Goddard and the Kavli Institute Santa Barbara who are heavily involved in space launches. They see our program as both novel and interesting. Australians are leading the way in the development of a new generation of ultra-compact, high performance, photonics-based instruments," said Professor Bland-Hawthorn

The i-INSPIRE team will complete more balloon launches in early 2013 with a launch into space scheduled for the third quarter of 2013.

"i-INSPIRE's balloon flight is a major step towards launching into space. As such the test is a step towards Australian universities and institutions developing space capabilities," said Professor Cairns.

These tests and launches will enable the team to take part, for instance, in the European Union's QB50 Project and the Marabibi Constellation project in the Australian Academy of Science's 2010 Decadal Plan for Australian Space Science.

University of Sydney students Adrian (Size) Xiao, Christopher Betters, and Jiro Funamoto played major roles in designing, building, and testing i-INSPIRE's instruments and subsystems, together with Professor Joss Bland-Hawthorn, Dr Lisa Fogarty, Dr Sergio Leon-Saval, Dr Tony Monger, and from the Faculty of Engineering Dr Xiaofeng Wu.


Contact: Tom Gordon

Phone: 02 9351 3201

Email: 326d5f003e14401a23431a0e22500d194c3438140d1c2c094c443819