4 mins read 04 May 2022

SPASE Education Program Launched in Queensland

High school students in Queensland are working with industry experts to launch a weather-monitoring CubeSat. 

Adam Gilmour, Professor Paolo de Souza, and an interested student at the SPASE launch. Credit: Gilmour Space Technologies.

Students from high schools across south-east Queensland are working with space industry experts to launch a satellite into space. The 56 students from eleven different schools are participating in the SPASE (STEM Program About Space Exploration) program, and will be working with Griffith University experts in Information and Communications Technology and Advanced Manufacturing, alongside space industry experts Gilmour Space Technologies, Deloitte and Airbus to build and launch a prototype satellite for a mission called ‘Platypus’. 

Schools taking part in the SPASE program include Brisbane State High School; Clairvaux Mackillop College; Helensvale State High School; Hillcrest Christian College; LORDS; Mabel Park State High School; Marymount College; Merrimac State High School; Pacific Pines State High School; Robina State High School; and Southport State High School.

Professor De Souza, Head of Griffith’s School of Information and Communication Technology and Director of SPASE commented on the relevance of the program and the Platypus mission to student education. 

"Exploration is part of being human,” said Professor De Souza. "We all wonder about space and this Platypus mission will provide our students with a unique experience to be part of the space industry. It is designed to give students a real-world - or out of this world - experience, take risks and learn how STEM can be exciting and rewarding.”  

SPASE launch at Griffith University. Credit: Gilmour Space Technologies.

The students converged on Griffith University’s Gold Coast campus for four days at the end of April, joined by the Queensland Chief Scientist, representatives from Gilmour Space, Deloitte, Airbus and Griffith academics at the Griffith Gold Coast campus. There, they learned about mission planning, careers in the space industry, Griffith’s advanced 3D printing facility ADaPT, where satellite parts will be produced, Griffith’s Queensland Micro- and Nanotechnology Centre, which will produce one sensor payload, and software development, systems engineering, and project management. 

"The Platypus mission offers a rare opportunity for students to apply their STEM knowledge and gain hands-on experience in building and operating real tech in space,” said Gilmour Space Technologies CEO, Adam Gilmour. "It’s a great way for us to share our passion with the next generation.”  

The finished CubeSat for the Platypus mission will be attached to Gilmour Space’s Eris rocket and launched approximately 400 km above the Earth later this year. The satellite will be fitted with temperature sensors and a camera to process images on-board and to record cloud cover. The aim of this technology is to assist natural disaster management preparations as it will more conclusively map weather trajectories and illustrate how effects on climate could be monitored.

Adam Gilmour, CEO of Gilmour Space, with students interested in space. Credit: Gilmour Space Terchnologies.

"The wonderful thing about space is that it gives us all the opportunity to explore together. That is why Deloitte is delighted to be part of such an important program that inspires the future leaders in this exciting new industry and sets the foundations for generations to come,” said Jesse Sherwood, the Lead Partner, Industrial Redesign and Innovation, at Deloitte.

“Airbus Defence and Space is proud to support Griffith University with their exciting SPASE program for students in Queensland,” said Martin Rowse, Director Space - Australia, Airbus Defence and Space. “The CubeSat mission allows students to learn about the many aspects of a space program and get hands-on project experience, from design through to launch. It is programs like these that help to encourage students to pursue careers in the Australian Space industry and we at Airbus, are inspired to see the genuine enthusiasm of the next generation for all things Space. We look forward to continuing to support this initiative with access to space experts and mentoring students through their CubeSat Space journey.”

Queensland Chief Scientist Professor Hugh Possingham said the project was a recipient of Queensland Government funding as it would expose students to the wonder of science, technology, engineering and maths. "Not only will the lucky students engage with STEM professionals and learn about exciting potential careers, they will also be embarking on useful and cutting-edge work that will be valuable for future research and government decision-making,” Professor Possingham said.