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We have lift-off: students launch satellite-building space project

29 Apr 2022

Griffith University Media Release

SPASE STEM launch at Griffith University
SPASE STEM launch at Griffith University

Fifty-six students from 11 high schools across South-East Queensland will converge on Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus to work with the space industry’s brightest to build and launch a satellite into space.

As part of SPASE (STEM Program About Space Exploration), the students from Years 9-11 will work with Griffith University experts in Information and Communications Technology and Advanced Manufacturing, alongside space industry experts Gilmour Space Technologies, Deloitte and Airbus to build and launch a prototype satellite.

The satellite launch mission has been named ‘Platypus’.

The cube satellite design, or CubeSat, will be designed, programmed and built by students throughout the year during on-site experience days, and at their respective schools in between, and be launched into space from the Bowen spaceport in Northern Queensland next year.

SPASE sponsors (from left) - Airbus, QLD Govt, Griffith Uni, Gilmour Space, Deloitte
SPASE sponsors (from left) - Airbus, QLD Govt, Griffith Uni, Gilmour Space, Deloitte

Students will join the Queensland Chief Scientist, representatives from Gilmour Space, Deloitte, Airbus and Griffith academics at the Griffith Gold Coast campus on April 29 for the first of the four interactive experience days, where they will learn about:

• the Mission plans and procedures;

• careers in the space industry;

• Griffith’s advanced 3D printing facility ADaPT, where satellite parts will be produced;

• Griffith’s Queensland Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre, which will produce one sensor payload;

• software development, systems engineering, project management and much more.

"Exploration is part of being human,” said Professor De Souza, Head or Griffith’s School of Information and Communication Technology and Director of the SPASE program.

"We all wonder about space and this Platypus mission will provide our students with a unique experience to be part of the space industry. It is designed to give students a real-world - or out of this world - experience, take risks and learn how STEM can be exciting and rewarding.”

The CubeSat is a 10cm³ satellite that will be attached to Gilmour Space’s Eris rocket, and launched approximately 400 km above the Earth later this year. It will house a camera and temperature sensors.

Images taken on board the CubeSat will record cloud cover in a unique way using artificial intelligence to process an image immediately.

The aim of this technology is to assist natural disaster management preparations as it will more conclusively map weather trajectories and illustrate how effects to climate could be monitored.

"The Platypus mission offers a rare opportunity for students to apply their STEM knowledge and gain hands-on experience in building and operating real tech in space,” said Gilmour Space CEO, Adam Gilmour. "It’s a great way for us to share our passion with the next generation.”

"The wonderful thing about space, is that it gives us all the opportunity to explore together. That is why Deloitte is delighted to be part of such an important program that inspires the future leaders in this exciting new industry, and sets the foundations for generations to come,” said Jesse Sherwood, the Lead Partner, Industrial Redesign and Innovation, at Deloitte.

“Airbus Defence and Space is proud to support Griffith University with their exciting SPASE program for students in Queensland,” said Martin Rowse, Director Space - Australia, Airbus Defence and Space. “The CubeSat mission allows students to learn about the many aspects of a space program and get hands-on project experience, from design through to launch. It is programs like these that help to encourage students to pursue careers in the Australian Space industry and we at Airbus, are inspired to see the genuine enthusiasm of the next generation for all things Space. We look forward to continuing to support this initiative with access to space experts and mentoring students through their CubeSat Space journey.”

Queensland Chief Scientist Professor Hugh Possingham said the project was a recipient of Queensland Government funding as it would expose students to the wonder of science, technology, engineering and maths.

"Not only will the lucky students engage with STEM professionals and learn about exciting potential careers, they will also be embarking on useful and cutting-edge work that will be valuable for future research and government decision-making,” Professor Possingham said.

Platypus Mission patch by Arita Bounnhong, Mabel Park State High School Year 12
Platypus Mission patch by Arita Bounnhong, Mabel Park State High School Year 12

The Platypus Mission patch was designed by Arita Bounnhong, a Mabel Park State High School Year 12 who wanted to include different coloured stars to symbolise the inclusivity and diversity of the people involved in project, and patterns that represented Earth from our perspective in comparison with the perspective of Earth from space.

Schools taking part in the SPASE program include Brisbane State High School; Clairvaux Mackillop College; Helensvale State High School; Hillcrest Christian College; LORDS; Mabel Park State High School; Marymount College; Merrimac State High School; Pacific Pines State High School; Robina State High School; and Southport State High School.



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