WA's first space satellite launched

A crowd gathered at Yagan Square in Perth for a live broadcast of the launch of Binar-1.
A crowd gathered at Yagan Square in Perth for a live broadcast of the launch of Binar-1.

A West Australian-made satellite has been launched into space for the first time.

Named after the Noongar word for fireball, Binar-1 was designed and built by 30 undergraduate students and engineers at Perth's Curtin University.

The tiny cube-shaped satellite weighs 1.5kg and is made of 10cm aluminium modules.

The device was meant to be launched on Saturday aboard a SpaceX rocket from NASA's Kennedy Space Centre in Florida but bad weather delayed it until Sunday evening, Perth time.

A small crowd gathered to cheer and countdown to a live broadcast of the launch at Yagan Square in Perth, where it will replay on a digital tower for the next week.

The rocket is carrying supplies to the International Space Station.

About six weeks after Binar-1 reaches the station, it will be deployed into low earth orbit where two cameras will be used to capture images of the WA coastline.

It will remain in orbit for 18 months.

Premier Michael McGowan said the satellite would "transform WA's space sector".

"The successful launch of Binar-1 demonstrates Western Australia is punching above its weight internationally yet again - this time in space," Mr McGowan said.

"It will help to diversify our economy with an exciting new industry and create jobs in a new, highly-skilled workforce with capabilities that are easily transferable between space and our other significant sectors, such as mining and resources."

The researchers are working on two other bigger satellites which they hope will help NASA return to the moon.

The first launch is being used to test the technology, but by 2025 it's hoped Binar satellites will pass within 20km of the lunar surface to map the geology of the moon, including minerals and ice deposits, in greater detail.

Australian Associated Press