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Space Machines readies for liftoff securing launch services deal with SpaceX

SpaceX to carry Space Machines' Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle as part of its April 2023 mission.

Optimus is one of the largest spacecraft built in Australia and furthers Australia’s sovereign capabilities toward in-space transportation and logistics

Space Machines Company (SMC), the Australian in-space transportation and  logistics startup, today announced it has secured the support of SpaceX as a launch partner to carry its Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle (OTV) to space as part of its April 2023 mission. SMC's Optimus OTV is one of the largest commercial spacecraft designed and manufactured in Australia. It is a testament to the innovation of Australia's space tech sector and the sovereign capability being built by SMC.  

The 2023 mission will demonstrate the 270 kg Optimus OTV’s ability to deliver in-space logistics services and will reinforce SMC’s strategy as a last-mile delivery services provider. The 2023 mission will also see SMC deploy solutions for foundation customers.

The Optimus spacecraft’s assembly and integration will occur at the Space Machines Company facility within the University of Technology Sydney’s (UTS) Tech Lab and will demonstrate Australian sovereign access to space capability. 

More than 6,000 active and inactive satellites are currently in orbit, and by 2030, there will be more than 100,000. Space will increasingly need infrastructure and logistics services to support and manage the exponential growth in satellites and debris around the globe.  SMC's development of a local space logistics capacity is critical to ensuring Australia can meet this growing challenge and manage its satellites in space. 

"Logistics is the new frontier in space innovation. Space-based technology underpins a lot of the daily conveniences Australians have come to expect such as weather forecasting, emergency management, internet access and online banking. To support and fully commercialise the potential of in-space service delivery, the right logistics infrastructure needs to be in place. Space Machines is leading the development of Australia's capability in this critical area and we are thrilled to be taking the next step in the commercialisation of our service with SpaceX," said Rajat Kulshrestha, CEO of Space Machines Company.

Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade Stuart Ayres said the NSW Government applauded Space Machines Company on its continued development and investment in Australian space and satellite technology. “Space Machines is at the forefront of Australia’s space technology and the NSW Government is proud to support its work,” Mr Ayres said.

“Having previously supported the company through our Going Global Space to the USA Export Program, and as part of a remote delegation for IAC 2021, Space Machines continues to demonstrate its global value proposition and ability to advance technologies that Australians have the privilege to enjoy every day.

“We rely on space and satellite technology to mitigate, manage and respond to natural emergencies, broadcast information, communicate with our loved ones, use the internet and control our finances.

This latest mission sounds fascinating and I’ve no doubt that its work will help drive improvements and solutions that put Australia at the forefront of this critical need.”

The SpaceX deal follows SMC’s expansion to India, with the opening of new offices in Bangalore to foster technological collaboration between the two countries. The company has also deepened its executive and advisory teams with two key appointments. 

Mark Ramsey joins Space Machine's executive team as Chief Operating Officer (COO). Mr Ramsey has nearly 20 years of experience in the Space and Defence sectors, including Executive Director and General Manager of SITAEL Australia and executive roles at Lockheed Martin, Thales Alenia Space, BAE Systems and NewSat. He is deputy chair and current director of the Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA). 

In addition, Anthony Kittel founder and CEO of advanced electronics manufacturer, Redarc Electronics, joins SMC as an Advisory Board member.  

SMC is strengthening its position as a key regional player in the space industry as it looks to capitalise on the Federal Government's AUD$1.16 billion commitment to bolster Australia's space industry. Federal initiatives such as the 16-year earth observation national space mission and the new Defence Space Command will deliver new commercial opportunities to the sector, providing space tech startups with additional support to further innovation and collaboration on a global scale.

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