• Space Machines Company launched its first Orbital Transfer Vehicle, Optimus-1, in 2024. 

Credit: Space Machines Company
    Space Machines Company launched its first Orbital Transfer Vehicle, Optimus-1, in 2024. Credit: Space Machines Company

Space Machines Company, an Australian in-space servicing firm, announced Space MAITRI (मैत्री) (Mission for Australia-India’s Technology, Research and Innovation), a joint industry-led Australian-Indian mission to demonstrate progress towards space debris management and a sustainable space future.

The Space MAITRI project, funded by an $8.5 million grant from the Australian Government through the Australian Space Agency, is part of the International Space Investment India Projects (ISI India Projects) program. This program, delivered by the Australian Space Agency and Department of Industry, Science and Resources (DISR) Grants Delivery & Business Services, builds upon the concept of a broader 2018 ISI initiative. 

Space MAITRI will incorporate Space Machines Company’s Australian-built Orbital Servicing Vehicle, integrated and launched from India on an Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) rocket. SpaceMAITRI will allow Space Machines Company to take the next step on its journey and build a further vehicle at its facility in Botany Sydney in partnership with Australian and Indian organisations.

The Space MAITRI project will likely result in one of the largest ever Australian spacecraft being built at around 500kg and possibly the first Australian payload to fly on an Indian rocket as a dedicated launch. 

Space Machines Company is leading the Space MAITRI mission to demonstrate technologies to make space sustainable. The proliferation of satellites launched by various entities has led to a rapid increase in space debris encircling the Earth. This poses an escalating threat to both future space ventures and astronaut safety. As a result of this, solutions for sustaining space, raising awareness, mitigating debris, and improving in-space services have become pivotal.

“As an Australian-Indian, I’m especially proud that the Sanskrit word ‘MAITRI’ meaning friendship and goodwill encapsulates the spirit of this pioneering international collaboration,” said Rajat Kulshrestha, CEO and Co-Founder of Space Machines Company. 

“Our vision is to provide long-term ‘Roadside Assistance in Space’, where spacecraft are repaired, refuelled, refurbished, recycled and removed at the end of life. By combining Australian innovation with Indian spaceflight heritage, we’ll make important strides in ensuring a safe and sustainable orbital environment for future space activities," Kulshrestha said.

The mission aims to demonstrate a variety of space situational awareness and debris mitigation payloads, including new AI tools, as well as the integration of Australian and Indian space supply chains.

For the Space MAITRI mission, Space Machines Company will partner with Digantara and Ananth Technologies. Digantara will provide their proprietary optical sensor which is tailored to image and track Resident Space Object (RSOs) in Low Earth Orbit.

Based in Australia and India, Space Machines Company is pioneering the technologies and services vital to building a more sustainable and scalable space economy, supporting more than 60,000 satellites expected to orbit Earth by 2030, and our explorations beyond.

This project received $8.5 million in grant funding from the Australian Government.

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