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UNSW graduate’s robotic arm to join Australia’s first rideshare

NSW Waratah Seed

A recent UNSW graduate is among five winners who will see their company’s space innovations blast into orbit as part of Australia’s first rideshare mission.

Bohan Deng’s business, Sperospace, creates robotic arms that can repair satellites in orbit and will launch late next year in an initiative paid for by the NSW government.

The competitive project, Waratah Seed, is led by the Australian Research Centre for Cubesats, UAVs and their Applications (CUAVA) and aims to make space more accessible.

Bohan Deng only finished his HSC in 2015 before studying for a bachelor’s degree in aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineering at UNSW.


He founded Sperospace in December 2018 and has received remarkable success. Earlier this year, Space Connect reported how NSW-based Space Machines Company also tapped his company to join its spacecraft launch.

In 2022, the in-space logistics provider will launch its first orbital transfer vehicle, Optimus-1, delivering commercial satellites onto their orbital paths around Earth and deeper into space. It will enter into orbit using a Gilmour Space Technologies rocket.

Other Waratah Seed winners include:

  • Dandelions, led by Brian Lim, will launch new structural materials like hemp into space to test their effectiveness in a space environment;
  • ExtraTerrestrial Power, led by Peter Toth, will test its solar cells based on terrestrial silicon technologies;
  • Euroka Power, led by Anita Ho-Baillie, will test its highly efficient and radiation-tolerant next generation solar cell technology; and
  • Spiral Blue, led by Taofiq Huq, will test its innovative space edge computing solution to process images on satellites to enable close to real-time applications for earth observation data.

Huq and Ho-Baillie said they are incredibly excited to have been selected to ride on Waratah Seed.


“Once our technology is proven in space, we look forward to supporting national and commercial missions in areas as diverse as fighting bushfires, improving agricultural yields and keeping watch over our borders,” Huq said.

“Access to the Waratah Seed CubeSat will reduce the barrier for Euroka Power to attain flight heritage, valuable flight-time and opportunities for proof of concept and for evaluating the stability of different cell designs in the space environment,” Ho-Baillie said.

Teams were selected following a competitive process involving feedback, mentoring sessions and pitches to a public audience of peers as well as a judging panel.

Investment NSW CEO Amy Brown said the five winners will receive “significant support” for a ride to space to test and prove components of their products.

“Waratah Seed is a NSW government funded satellite that will make product testing more accessible and affordable, quite literally taking space-related research and development to a new frontier,” Brown said.

“Supporting space startups to get their products market-ready not only helps build a thriving future industry in NSW, but also equips us with innovative new technologies to monitor carbon emissions, manage natural resources, support disaster response efforts and provide critical earth observation data to tackle problems here on earth.”


Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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