INSPIRE-2 CubSat successfully launched to space

3 May 2017

For the first time in 15 years Australia is going back to space with 3 CubSats built by Australian Universities.

The 3 CubSats are part of QB50, a European founded mission of 36 CubSats. The constellation of mini satellites will be studying the Earth ionosphere and thermosphere, the highest layers of the Earth's atmosphere of which little is known.

Among the Australian CubSat teams, INSPIRE-2 is the University of Sydney, University of New South Wales and Australian National University contribution. The team lead by Professor Iver Cairns from the school of Physics (U. of Sydney) assembled 5 unique instruments that will allow Australia to demonstrate different space technologies:

  • A Nanophotonic Spectrograph (Chris Betters, Sergio Leon-Saval, and Joss Bland-Hawthorn, U. Sydney)
  • A Radiation Counter (Joe Khachan, U. Sydney)
  • A Microdosimeter (Xiaofeng Wu, U. Sydney)
  • A Kea GPS Receiver Unit (Andrew Dempster, UNSW)
  • And a multi-needle Langmuir Probe (MNLP) supplied by the QB50 Project

The CubSats took off on the 19th of April on board the Atlas V Rocket and made it safely to the ISS. They should reach their final orbit around mid May.

Beside a beautiful achievement for the different teams involved, this represents an important step in the future of Australia in space. Australia lacks a space agency but it is believed that small satellites could be the way to stimulate an Australian space industry.


CubSats are mini satellite (10x10x10 cm3) of a maximum weight of 1.33kg. They are usually made of commercial off the shell components and put in orbit from the International Space Station or launched as secondary payload of larger satellites. Because of their low cost they are mostly used for academic research. They are particularly great for testing new space technologies that would otherwise take years or decades to be validated for larger satellites.

INSPIRE-2 specifications

The INSPIRE-2 dimension are 20x10x10 cm3 (2 cubesats) and weights 2kg, so just a little more than your laptop!. The mission duration is expected to be from 8 to 12 months.

Check INSPIRE-2 webpage for more details !

Contact: Prof Iver H. Cairns

Phone: 02 9351- 3961

Email: 0d5028232336745f2e3b342d13324224473b2901352200444e1f