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WA boldly goes where no West Aussie spacecraft has gone before

Media release

We have lift off – with the launch of Western Australia’s first homegrown spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Centre in Cape Canaveral, Florida, today.

As we approach the 60th anniversary of astronaut John Glenn dubbing Perth the ‘City of Lights’ on his orbit around the Earth in Friendship 7, WA is once again shining bright in space, with the first step in an ambitious journey to reach the Moon by 2025.

The Binar-1 CubeSat, entirely coded and built by staff and students from Curtin University’s Space Science and Technology Centre (SSTC), will also be the first WA spacecraft launched into orbit from the International Space Station (ISS) in about six weeks’ time.

Curtin Vice-Chancellor Professor Harlene Hayne, SSTC Director, John Curtin Distinguished Professor Phil Bland joined key partners and the Curtin team behind the Binar Space Program to watch the historic launch live on Yagan Square’s Digital Tower, in the heart of Perth.

WA Premier, the Hon Mark McGowan, said the launch of Binar-1 was a proud moment for Western Australia.

“The successful launch of Binar-1 demonstrates Western Australia is punching above its weight internationally yet again – this time in space,” Premier McGowan said.

“Binar-1 is going to transform WA’s space sector. It will help to diversify our economy with an exciting new industry and create jobs in a new, highly-skilled workforce with capabilities that are easily transferrable between space and our other significant sectors, such as mining and resources.”

Professor Hayne said the Binar Space Program – led by the SSTC in partnership with remote operations experts Fugro and supported by industry-led consortium AROSE (Australian Remote Operations for Space and Earth) – positioned WA as a national leader in the research and development of spacecraft.

“The Binar-1 CubeSat is set to be the most validated and flight-proven Australian spacecraft, cementing WA’s position as a national leader in the development and operation of spacecraft,” Professor Hayne said.

“Through our world-leading Space Science Technology Centre, Curtin University has developed a new space technology that will revolutionise Australia’s access to space.

“The Binar Space Program is not only driving innovation, it also gives students an extraordinary opportunity to get hands-on experience in real space missions and will inspire our young people to pursue careers in STEM.”

Professor Bland said another six WA-made CubeSats were scheduled for launch over the next 18 months.

“Binar technology will lower the cost barriers and provide local industries with a real and practical pathway into the growing space sector, which generated $4.8 billion in revenue in 2018-19 and is growing 3 to 4 times faster than the overall economy,” Professor Bland said.

“The Binar spacecraft design allows us to mass produce functioning satellites that you can hold in the palm of your hand – reliably and repeatedly. With Binar technology, we can fly a constellation of satellites for the same price as a single spacecraft from other manufacturers.

“The next big step is taking a WA-built spacecraft to the Moon by 2025 through the Binar Prospector project.”

The Binar Space Program has been generously supported by a State Government investment of $500,000 to facilitate joint operations with the Fugro SpAARC facility, and advance a valuable outreach component to inspire young people in WA.

Around six weeks after Binar-1 reaches the ISS, it will then be deployed into low earth orbit where the team will make contact with the ground station at Curtin University. The primary objective of Binar-1 is to test all the critical spacecraft systems that will help take us to the Moon. The two cameras on board will aim to capture images of the WA coastline and relay them back to Earth.

The WA public can watch replays of the launch on Yagan Square’s Digital Tower until 5 September and is invited to be part of history by visiting the Big Binar at WA Museum Boola Bardip and writing a message to space. The journey of Binar-1 can also be followed on social media @binarspacewa #wainspace.

Further information on the Binar Program, including links to watch the launch, visit binarspace.com.