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The space capsule supported by orange-coloured solar panels photographed above Earth carrying the Australian satellites and several other cubesats as arrives at the ISS. Credits: University of Sydney / NASA.
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Australia returning to outer space

26 May 2017
Week-long wait to see if CubeSat will switch on

The Australian spacecraft INSPIRE-2, a project led by the University of Sydney, will be launched from the International Space Station.  

INSPIRE-2 lead Prof Iver Cairns (3rd from left) next to global QB50 Space Segment Engineer and CubeSat Coordinator Amandine Denis and QB50 Project Manager Davide Masutti (L-R) in front of the launch site at Cape Canaveral, after witnessing the lift-off to the International Space Station (ISS) last month

INSPIRE-2 lead Prof Iver Cairns (3rd from left) next to global QB50 Space Segment Engineer and CubeSat Coordinator Amandine Denis and QB50 Project Manager Davide Masutti (L-R) in front of the launch site at Cape Canaveral, after witnessing the lift-off to the International Space Station (ISS) last month.

INSPIRE-2 will be launched from the International Space Station at around 2pm on Friday 26 May.  

The launch will be the final leg of the journey, after the lift-off of the cube satellites, or cubesats, from Cape Canaveral, Florida last month, in an historic project that marks several firsts.

INSPIRE-2 lead Professor Iver Cairns is quietly confident that the cubesat, designed and built in Australia, will work once it leaves the International Space Station for its final destination – outer space.

Professor Cairns attended Cape Canaveral as a VIP with his partner Ann Cairns, who videoed the lift-off to the International Space Station last month.

“It is a very exciting and rather stressful time; we’re waiting to see whether our spacecraft will turn on when it is deployed into space,” said the Professor in Space Physics in the School of Physics.

“Our INSPIRE-2 has so far has been flawless; it hasn’t had any computer problems and the people at NanoRacks, which will launch the cubesats from the ISS, said it was one of the nicest spacecraft they had to deal with for QB50,” Professor Cairns said.

“I am quietly confident that our spacecraft will turn on and we will be detecting signals from it within less than a week.

“This is a cubesat that people here at the University of Sydney and at UNSW and ANU have held in their hands and we’ve managed to get it into orbit and to the International Space Station. The next step is space itself.”

“We’ve very grateful that the Federal Government waived the insurance and financial requirements for the universities.

“The support in particular by the Minister for Industry, Innovation and Science, Arthur Sinodinos, meant that the Australian QB50 spacecraft did not have to be sold overseas, keeping us in this race.

“This is the first time that Australian cubesats have launched into space.”

Another key member of the INSPIRE-2 project team, Dr Xiaofeng Wu from the School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering, said the small satellites provided an easy access to space for education and technology demonstration.

“In the QB50 project, students are actively involved in the satellite design to enhance their experiential learning experiences,” Dr Wu said.

“The new instrumentation – like the gamma microdosimeter – will be demonstrated for its feasibility in monitoring solar activities in space together with other scientific missions by our international and national collaborators.”

Jennifer Peterson-Ward

Media and PR Adviser (Engineering and IT)

Vivienne Reiner

Media and PR Adviser (Science, Veterinary Science, Agriculture)

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