Space Machines readies for liftoff, closes SpaceX launch services deal

Space Machines Company (SMC), the Australian in-space transportation and logistics startup, 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 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.

What is SMC’s market offering?

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 need infrastructure and logistics services to support and manage the exponential growth in satellites and debris. 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,” said Rajat Kulshrestha, CEO of Space Machines Company.

“Space Machines is leading the development of Australia’s capability in this area and we are thrilled to be taking the next step in the commercialisation of our service with SpaceX.”

Why is SMC a unique industry player?

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 firm through our Going Global Space to the USA Export Program, and as part of a remote delegation for IAC 2021, Space Machines shows its global value proposition to advance tech that Aussies have the privilege to enjoy everyday.”

“We rely on satellite tech 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.”

What are the new structural changes at SMC?

The SpaceX deal follows Space Machines Company’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 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 director of the Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA). Anthony Kittel founder and CEO of advanced electronics manufacturer, Redarc Electronics, also joins SMC as an Advisory Board member.

SMC is strengthening its position as a regional player in the space industry as it looks to capitalise on the Federal Gov’t’s AUD$1.16bn commitment to bolster Australia’s space industry. Initiatives like the 16-year earth observation national space mission and the new Defence Space Command will deliver commercial opportunities to the sector, providing space tech startups with additional support to further innovation and collaboration on a global scale.