The SpIRIT (Space Industry – Responsive – Intelligent – Thermal Nanosatellite) mission aims to grow Australian space industry capabilities through the development of an innovative nanosatellite.

What Is SpIRIT?

To be launched into space by 2022, SpIRIT will break new ground in high-performance autonomous operations, communications, propulsion and thermal management, and be the first Australian-made spacecraft to host a foreign space agency payload, showcasing the competitiveness of Australia’s nanosatellite R&D and advanced manufacturing.

The project will demonstrate the viability of Australian products in the global supply chain of satellite components, give hands-on training to grow a highly capable space-sector workforce, and inspire the Australian public.

The SpIRIT mission is a partnership between The University of Melbourne, Sitael Australia, Inovor Technologies, Neumann Space and Nova Systems, receiving grant funding from the Australian Space Agency’s International Space Investment: Expand Capability grant opportunity. SpIRIT is also supported by the Italian Space Agency, and in an advisory role by the United Kingdom Space Agency. SpIRIT Principal Investigator is A/Prof. Michele Trenti (School of Physics), and the Deputy PI is Dr. Airlie Chapman (Department of Mechanical Engineering).

SpIRIT at a glance

  • Mission to design, develop, and launch a 9kg 6U CubeSat by 2022
  • One main payload for advanced x-ray remote sensing – the HERMES instrument, developed with funding by the Italian Space Agency (HERMES Technological Pathfinder) and by the European Commission H2020 framework (HERMES Scientific Pathfinder)
  • Three innovative products to be space qualified for IP generation: TheMIS (thermal management integrated system), Mercury (adaptive autonomous low-latency communication module), Neumann Thruster (high efficiency electric propulsion)
  • Two-year operations in-orbit to demonstrate the long-term performance of Australian-made hardware
  • Demonstration of operation centre capable of receiving operations requests, applying user priority levels, and making rapid, autonomous decisions about tasking of antennas and satellites
  • Hands-on workforce training activities for secondary to graduate students to mentor and inspire future space leaders.


Training the space-sector workforce

Students will have the opportunity to join the SpIRIT engineering teams at the University of Melbourne and at the industry partners both as part of postgraduate research projects and through a paid internship program, working under the expert mentoring and supervision of academics and industry professionals.

A first opportunity for paid student internships (during the summer 2021) is available through the School of Physics (deadline for applications: 5th November 2020; limited to UoM students currently enrolled).