What a year! As 2022 comes to a close, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on all that we’ve accomplished with the help of our friends and supporters.
First and foremost, we are thrilled to have made significant progress on the Carousel Spacelab project, a small free flying centrifuge that allows in-space manufacturing and applications customers to have a master control knob over gravity. This has been a major focus for us this year, and we’re excited about the potential impact it could have on the future of the in-space economy.
In addition to our work on the Carousel Spacelab, we have also had the opportunity to participate in a number of other exciting initiatives. All of these were made far easier through having a secure workspace at the Centre for Entrepreneurial Research and Innovation (CERI) throughout the whole year, and we’d like to again thank all CERI staff (past and present) for their invaluable help.
January and February saw us complete CSIRO’s Innovate to Grow: Space program, which saw us complete a number of workshops, and was among several factors that led us to suspend our work on our Kinetic Solution for Space Debris (KiSSD) technique. We may restart this work in the future if the market changes, but it was (unfortunately) becoming increasingly clear that the obvious early-adopters of any active debris removal service – commercial and government satellite operators responsible for existing space junk – were still finding it more economical to de-risk their potential liability by through measures involving space junk tracking data, rather than supporting measures to remove it.
We pivoted to promoting our Carousel Spacelab concept shortly afterwards, and at the same time we incredibly fortunate to be accepted into CERI’s Venture Mentoring Program. Our special thanks go to mentors David Budge and Premila Jina for their advice, support and encouragement over the year. Your generosity with your time has been invaluable.
As part of our outreach efforts, we completed our the Starship Point to Point Transport (Exodus Videos) project, which was published on Youtube on April 27th. Some of the key R&D aspects of this video involved looking how safety levels for early aviation in the USA improved throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Early aviation routes were mainly funded through airmail, and this video argues that the rationale for point to point space transport may progress along similar lines, with fast space cargo transport being the driving factor for improving safety to levels sufficient for commercial space passenger transport around Earth.
In June, we were fortunate to take part in an Australian delegation to London Tech Week, supported by the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation. We were one of 10 WA companies on the delegation organised by Tribe, and the week had a number of great events for us, many of which were attended and supported by WA Deputy Premier Roger Cook. This included a UK space industry roundtable with numerous UK space actors, and concluded with visits to the Harwell Space Cluster and Surrey Satellite Technology. Our thanks especially go to David Burrows (WAGO), Phil Carvil (UKRI), and Clive Oates (SSTL) who helped set up these visits. It was fantastic to meet all the representatives of UK-based space companies – and these visits really reinforced the strength of the UK space sector.
In July, we attended the ISS R&D Conference in Washington D.C., where we had the opportunity to share our ideas and learn from other leading innovators in the field. These included numerous staff within NASA, the ISS National Lab and numerous ISS implementation partners and we had some incredibly valuable conversations with Commercial LEO Destination companies Axiom Space and Sierra Space.
At the conference we were also able to have conversations with scientists doing real science onboard the International Space Station. Being able to understand the specifics of utilising the drug test-bed (skeletal muscle) “chips” and growing liver tissue “organoids” for transplantation has been powerful for understanding the advantages that just a small subset of end users will be able to gain from operating onboard Carousel Spacelab, and these seem to be indicative of many potential applications The feedback from all on Carousel varied between interested and effusive, and this really gave us encouragement that we were on the right track!
Being able to make a brief visit to SpaceX’s Starbase on this same trip was just the icing on top.
In the second half of the year, we worked hard on taking all this feedback to iterate upon the Carousel Spacelab design to better serve the In-Space Production Applications and Manufacturing market. This involved:
- Continuing to utilise the cubesat form-factor, so customers may leverage that ecosystem for their payloads, but reducing the number of cubesats from 12 to 8 (to further reduce schedule constraints), while increasing the size of some of them to 12U.
- We compacted the design further so as to allow launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rideshare (15″ port), which means our launch costs could be as low as $1.2M US dollars. We have retained the capacity to launch on a small launch vehicle.
- We’ve retained use of the standard Free-flyer Grapple Fixture to enable capture (and retrieval/replacement of customer cubesats) by a crewed space station.
In November, we were accepted into the QuantumTX Fast Forward accelerator program, which offers participant companies $25,000 worth of in-kind support, including workshops, site visits & mentoring. It was thanks to the support of QTX that we proud to both present and have a booth at the West Tech Fest 2022 Innovation Showcase.
With the generous help of OneTide, we were able to produce a full 1:1 scale model of part of the Carousel Spacelab Torus, which we demoed at our West Tech Fest booth.
Finally, we are very happy to have received a 1-year sponsorship from the Inventors Association of WA. With this help we were able to first launch, our first Exodus Space Commerce Hackathon on the 12th and 13th of December, 2022, with a talk at the WA Space Forum hosted by the brilliant accounting team at Nexia. Here, Mike spoke about the plans for Carousel Spacelab, and the need to build the team ahead of our seed-capital raise.
Fast forward to the Space Commerce Hackathon itself, it was a great two day event where we had 4 great responses to the challenges. Our thanks go to the participants who brought their energy to the event, and mentors Roy Mitchell, Benjamin Kaebe, Conrad Pires, Silvia Shrubsall and Matteo Vinci who helped out at various stages.
As we look back on the year, we are grateful for the support and partnership of our colleagues, clients, and community. We wish you all a happy holiday season and a successful new year!