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Startup simplifies science experiments in space

Space Industry

The newest Australian space startup is building titanium containers to house science experiments on CubeSats.

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International Astronautical Congress

ResearchSat has developed a prototype of its 3D-printed titanium box, associated quartz glass slides and microchips to transmit data that fits neatly into a miniature satellite.

The commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product, which is effectively a space petrie dish, is suitable for microbiology, physics and chemistry research and could dramatically reduce the cost of conducting experiments in microgravity environments.

Inventor Raviteja Duggineni, who is a masters student in aerospace engineering at the University of Adelaide in South Australia, aims to have some of his experiments included in an Airbus mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2019 alongside fellow South Australian startup Neumann Space.

Duggineni said his first two experiments aimed to monitor the growth of common cold and flu bacteria and the behaviour of antibiotics in space.

He said using the 10cm x 10cm containers, designed to be easily integrated into a 1U CubeSat, for his own experiments in the first instance was the best way to test their performance in space.

“Currently the space industry is booming and soon there will be space tourism and other human exploration missions coming along. So we need to find out how microorganisms behave in space,” Duggineni said.

“We want to build this entire box as a commercial product so it will bring the cost of these experiments right down.”

Duggineni said he believed his COTS product could help reduce the overall cost of conducting science experiments in space from more than AU$1 million to less than $100,000.

The prototype of the ResearchSat 3D-printed titanium box fits CubeSats to reduce cost of biological experiments.

Neumann Space has recently signed an agreement with the South Australian Department of Education and Child Development that will see three STEM experiments created by South Australian public schools, join its mission to the ISS in 2019.

Duggineni is speaking to a number of the schools in the competition in the hope they will use his space containers to house their experiments.

He will also use the International Astronautical Congress in his hometown of Adelaide this month to increase awareness about his company.

The 68th IAC will be held at the Adelaide Convention Centre from 25 to 29 September. Up to 4000 delegates are expected to attend including the heads of all the major space agencies and Space X founder and CEO Elon Musk.

The South Australian Government will have an exhibition stand at the conference, where they will be joined by 11 local space start-ups, including Myriota, Fleet Space Technologies, Neumann Space and Inovor Technologies, hoping to increase their footprint in the multi-billion-dollar global space industry.

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