iLAuNCH to qualify in-space servicing spacecraft Optimus for flight

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The iLAuNCH Trailblazer is vetting Space Machines Company’s Optimus OSV Spacecraft, the largest single Australian-made commercial space transport and servicing platform, before it heads into orbit in early 2024. 

As part of the project, iLAuNCH will work together with Australian National University, InSpace, and Space Machines Company to conduct rigorous testing to qualify the spacecraft for flight readiness. 

Optimus is expected to serve as a game-changer for Australia’s ambitions in space. 

“For the entire history of space flight, we’ve launched our expensive technologically advanced satellites into orbit hoping they will survive for years, but totally unable to refuel or service them if problems occur,” said Darin Lovett, iLAuNCH Trailblazer’s executive director.  

“This partnership to develop in-space transportation and logistics services opens a new global market opportunity while setting up enduring partnerships within the Australian space ecosystem.”  

The project will vet the Optimus Platform at TRL 8 for flight readiness through the National Space Test Facility at ANU, the largest space testing infrastructure in Australasia. 

Space Machines Company is an Australian company delivering on-orbit servicing and protection of critical space infrastructure through its Orbital Servicing Network. SMC supports mobility, inspection, deorbiting, repair, life extension, and protection capability to satellite customers when and where they need it. 

George Freney, co-founder of Space Machines Company, said the business model for the Optimus Platform delivers significant return on investment for satellite operators by providing a service like roadside assistance on Earth but in orbit, which improves the resilience and economics of satellite operations. 

“The Optimus platform is scalable and adaptable to the market. The iLAuNCH project helps us to mature its design, leveraging National Space Test Facility’s deep expertise in spacecraft prototype testing,” Freney said.