CUAVA was delighted to take delivery of flight hardware for the “Matilda” payload for the Waratah Seed WS-1 mission, which is designed to demonstrate a new spacecraft thermal management system developed by Mawson Rovers and UTS.
Thermal management represents a major challenge for the next generation of satellites. As demand for satellite services, such as earth observation, space situational awareness and satellite internet increases, so too does the requirement for greater onboard computational power. Larger computers generate more heat, which is hard to manage in the vacuum of space.
Matilda will demonstrate a novel thermal management technique, using a 3D-printed structure developed by UTS with an integrated phase-change material (PCM). During the flight, the payload will use a heater to simulate the heat output of a computer chip, which will melt the internal PCM. The team will then compare the resulting thermal data between the flight system and thermal-vacuum tests performed on the ground.
“We are really excited to be part of the Waratah Seed mission since Matilda represents the first ever spaceflight payload built by UTS. It wouldn’t have been possible without strong collaborations with our industry partners and of course funding support, particularly from the SmartSat CRC.”
– Dr Nick Bennett, UTS researcher and Matilda project lead
Mawson Rovers developed the payload electronics and software for control of the heater and collection of thermal data while in orbit. Matilda also represents the first spaceflight heritage for this Sydney-based company. To help future space efforts in Australia, Mawson Rovers has also made the electronics designs and software source code for the payload available as open-source project on GitHub.
“Addressing Earth’s biggest problems, like sustainable agriculture and climate change, relies on high quality satellite data. Improving thermal control for spacecraft helps us fix these significant challenges on Earth through better technology in space, and we are thrilled to take part in this mission.”
– Matt Ryall, CEO and Co-founder at Mawson Rovers
Over the past six months, the team has completed development and testing of several engineering and flight models, and refined a web dashboard for control and monitoring of the payload. With a large number of successful tests in the vacuum chambers at UTS Tech Lab, both validating the hardware and providing baseline data to compare with results from orbit, its real-world viability will now be tested on the Waratah Seed WS-1 rideshare mission.
"We look forward to the outcome of these innovative thermal management systems and techniques developed and tested by Mawson Rovers and UTS. And are grateful to the support from SmartSat to ensure the industry can continue to create exciting solutions for difficult problems in space edge computing and satellite resilience."
- Professor Iver Cairns, Director of CUAVA and Waratah Seed Space Mission
Now that flight hardware has been delivered, the team is completing the final checks on the payload ahead of flight. Nick and the UTS team continue work at UTS Tech Lab to refine their models and perform more ground-based tests. Matt and the Mawson Rovers team is working closely with CUAVA to complete payload integration into the WS-1 satellite and will complete development of the flight software.
Congratulations to all involved! Keep up to date with our news at waratahseed.space