South Australia will become the first state to launch its own satellite, with a $6.5 million investment to put the cereal box-sized communications and data collection unit into a low-earth orbit within the next 15 months.
The state government will partner with the space industry in the mission designed to boost SA’s space economy as well as improve services such as emergency management, environment and water quality monitoring, mining exploration and bushfire mitigation.
The SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre will lead the mission, with Adelaide-based manufacturing company Inovor Technologies designing and building the satellite.
South Australian space company Myriota has been contracted to provide data collection and distribution services.
“South Australia is embarking on a bold mission with industry to design and build a satellite to deliver space-derived services to the state, a venture never undertaken before by any state government,” Premier Steven Marshall said on Wednesday.
“Not only will the satellite help us make better decisions for state services, it comprehensively cements South Australia as the space state.”
Inovor Technologies said it expected the six-unit Apogee satellite to be launched in 2022.
Founder and chief executive Matthew Tetlow said the mission would demonstrate why space was important to the South Australian community and how information from space could be used to improve lives on earth.
“It is also helping to build a space ecosystem that will support the creation of more high-tech careers into the future for young South Australians,” he said.
“The SASAT1 Space Services Mission will create new jobs, boost supply chain investment and, hopefully, inspire the people of South Australia.”
Myriota Chief Executive Alex Grant said the data collected on behalf of the government would remain the property of the government but commercial arrangements could be entered into with a wide variety of companies.
“One of the key features of the Myriota network is that it is built, from the ground up, to be highly secure and highly private so it can support proper control and ownership of data,” he said.
In practical terms, the satellite will be able to help with the assessment of available water supplies during times of bushfires, provide information on fuel loads and make faster and better assessment of the damage.
Its view will also extend further afield from Australia, with the ability to collect data from around the world.
A launch provider is yet to be chosen along with a launch site.