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ProtoSAT eyes education revolution

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Andreas Antoniades with his ProtoSAT technology designed for an educational environment.

A University of Newcastle honours student is hoping to deliver a robust and affordable satellite platform to the local education sector with his space age start-up.

Andreas Antoniades has turned a research project for his thesis into a start-up, dubbed ProtoSAT, which aims to offer students the chance to research new ideas and uses for small satellite technology using fully-functional and affordable equipment.

ProtoSAT conforms to the CubeSat standard, which is rapidly growing across the globe. A CubeSat is a miniaturised satellite (10x10x10 cm, weighing 1kg) which provides all the standard functions of a normal satellite. However, the technology is prohibitively expensive for most institutions.

“With a CubeSat you are still going to be paying close to $100,000 for a complete outfit,’’ he said. “I thought I can offer an intermediate solution.’’

ProtoSAT has been developed to be almost exactly like a space-grade satellite, but is designed from the ground up to be cheap and simple.

“It is a complete satellite system so it has got a power module, a communications module, a processing module and it has also got an example of what a payload would be so any scientific experiment would run on there.’’

All programming and software will be open source using the Arduino platform.

Mr Antoniades, who is a final year electrical engineering and business student, has finished prototypes for the power system, which allows battery charging from solar panels and provides power to all parts of the satellite, and a telecommunications system for getting data from orbit.

The plan is to eventually develop space-grade hardware, but educational gear would be the initial focus for ProtoSAT.

According to Mr Antoniades, ProtoSAT differs from Sydney-based Launchbox kits that use balloon-launched CubeSats in education.

“It (ProtoSAT) is for end-tier high school years and universities, to get them prepared for the real gear. It’s a bit more forgiving though.’’

The 24-year-old from Newcastle, who is looking to raise capital, planned to offer the ProtoSAT platform for under $1000 to the educational sector.

“I am aiming for final prototypes by the end of the year,’’ said Mr Antoniades, who supports a change to current space laws and treaties to assist smaller players. “By the middle of next year, I’d like to start rolling out some demonstration units.’’


[“source – theaustralian.com.au”]
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