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Indian launch firm wins Space Machines deal

Space Machines Company has signed a deal with an Indian firm to blast off its second “roadside assistance in space” satellite in 2026.

NewSpace India’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle (SSLV) will lift off the second Optimus spacecraft in a mission that will be a collaboration between a number of Australian and Indian space companies.

Space Machines Company’s (SMC) spacecraft are designed to offer a taxi-style service in orbit, physically moving other satellites to new positions.

It’s hoped the technology could both reduce space debris and extend the life of other spacecraft which would otherwise be forced to shut down.


The news of the deal comes after Space Connect reported that SMC received an $8.5 million grant for the mission, named MAITRI – Mission for Australia-India’s Technology, Research and Innovation – in May.

The head of the Australian Space Agency, Enrico Palermo, said the mission would leverage both countries’ respective capabilities and unique strengths.

“Like India, Australia’s commercial space sector is rapidly growing and we are producing innovative space technologies that benefit life on Earth,” said Palermo.

“The mission will inspire future explorers and further enhance international cooperation in this critical domain.”


The Space MAITRI mission involves several Australian and Indian partner companies collaborating with Space Machines Company, including Digantara, Ananth Technologies, The University of Adelaide, The University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney, LeoLabs, Advanced Navigation, and the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).

NewSpace’s Small Satellite Launch Vehicle, meanwhile, launched three satellites into low-Earth orbit last year during its second flight.

The three-stage SSLV is capable of sending up to 500 kilograms of payload into orbit and stands at 34 metres tall.

The successful blast-off came after the inaugural launch suffered an anomaly in the rocket’s kick-stage in 2022.

Australia’s collaboration with India comes as Sydney prepares to host the global IAC conference next year and is the latest in a string of deals between the two countries.

In February, for example, the Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with its Indian equivalent to increase collaboration between the two countries’ space sectors.

The deal specifically addresses challenges including managing space debris, advancing satellite technology, and aiding integration with defence.

The MOU with the Satcom Industry Association-India (SIA-India) was signed by senior figures attending this year’s DefSAT 2024 conference in New Delhi.

Jeremy Hallett, the executive chairman of Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA), hailed the important relationship between the two countries.

“Numerous initiatives and investments have been established since the government relationship was elevated to a comprehensive strategic partnership, but more needs to be done for space,” he said.

“Our respective space sectors are aligned in efforts to create space technology and services which have a meaningful impact for lives 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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