In 2018, CSIRO initiated a project to acquire its own 3U CubeSat, called ‘CSIROSat-1’ (CSIRO Scientific InfraRed Observing Satellite), in partnership with Australian industry. The payload will include a shortwave infrared (SWIR) imaging system and on-board data processing capabilities. CSIROSat-1 is to be built and launched within 2 years.
Once operational, it will be an Earth observing satellite for scientific research purposes, gathering data focused on Australia. It is also intended as a technology demonstrator for advanced on-board data processing capabilities, focused on harnessing speciality skills and technology from across Australia.
The key target uses will be related to land-based, coastal- and marine applications development. However, the CubeSat will also assist in developing satellite system design and operations capability within CSIRO, as well as developing in-flight re-programming methods, automatic detection algorithms, and data correction techniques for rapid on-board data processing, that can serve future near-real-time applications. This CSIROSat-1 will also provide the opportunity to support Australian companies to gain flight heritage for Australian-manufactured satellite components, and help build Australia’s advanced manufacturing capabilities.
CSIRO is collaborating with industry partner Inovor Technologies Pty Ltd to design and build the satellite, and is being supported by collaborating research organisations including UNSW Canberra, the ANU Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre, and the Defence Science and Technology Group on mission design, testing and commissioning, as well as support from industry on applications development.
An Australian designed, controlled and operated CubeSat will offer the advantages of a data stream customised for Australian users and near-real-time data access via Australian receiving stations. This CubeSat will be a next-generation instrument that will contribute to the development of a future competitive advantage for the Australian space industry.