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Saber Astronautics grant to support emerging space companies

Stephen Kuper

Sydney-based Saber Astronautics has announced the launch of a new program to open source software to connect satellites to mission control centres. Called the Open Source Space Operations project, or OSSO, the aim is to make it easier for new space companies to rapidly deploy their missions.

Saber Astronautics grant to support emerging space companies
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This project received grant funding from the Australian government’s International Space Investment: Expand Capability grant opportunity. The value of the grant is $788,792.

OSSO’s objective is to solve the bespoke nature of infrastructure needed to operate a space mission. The open sourcing of Saber’s operational infrastructure and making components available for free via the OSSO platform will allow any new space team to collaborate in a way which avoids competitive angst, builds on lessons learned, and allows for iterative improvement.

New missions will quickly close the loop between spacecraft prototype and live flights.

A number of Saber’s technologies forming the OSSO project will be introduced in stages, including ways to connect Mission Control Centres, satellite dishes and commonly used satellite standards.

"OSSO will further lower the barriers to space for organisations, for example, smallsat operators and university programs. It will give people access to a full ground station system with space heritage that can be used by anyone, anywhere without vendor lock-in," said Aidan O’Brien, Saber’s head of infrastructure and analytics.

This project supports the mission operation for the Breakthrough Initiatives’ TOLIMAN spacecraft. TOLIMAN’s main payload is a 10cm class space telescope to prospect for Earth-like planets around our nearest neighbour star system, Alpha Centauri.

When it flies, TOLIMAN will be the largest privately-funded astronomical space telescope to have been launched. Its audacious blue-sky science ambition will deliver an immediate and high profile Australian-led space asset supporting world-class research.

Saber’s CEO, Dr Jason Held, explained the importance of this mission, saying, "Billion-dollar space telescopes such as Hubble and James Webb are workhorses for astronomy but huge cost and weight make them difficult to access. There is a whole universe to explore, so a targeted mission like TOLIMAN is actually quite refreshing."

Smaller spacecraft are orders of magnitude cheaper, creating new opportunities. For Australians, the trend has resulted in a virtual boom economy as the space sector sets to triple over the next 10 years.

For example, there are nearly 600 new satellites commissioned for manufacture by Australia alone — nearly half of the number operational satellites in orbit worldwide.

The OSSO Project is led by Saber Astronautics, and is supported by a strong collective of Australian and international organisations who will be the first stakeholders. A community hub will be released so members of the public can interact with the space community and collaborate with Australia.

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