Australian in-space transportation provider, Space Machines Company (SMC) has secured the support of SpaceX as a launch partner to carry its Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle (OTV) to space as part of its April 2023 mission. 

SMC’s Optimus OTV is one of the largest commercial spacecraft designed and manufactured in Australia. 

The 2023 mission will demonstrate the 270 kg Optimus OTV’s ability to deliver in-space logistics services and will deploy solutions for foundation customers.

The Optimus spacecraft’s assembly and integration will occur at the Space Machines Company facility within the University of Technology Sydney’s (UTS) Tech Lab, and will demonstrate Australian sovereign access to space capability. 

With more than 6,000 active and inactive satellites in orbit, there will increasingly be a need for infrastructure and logistics services to support and manage exponential growth in satellites and debris, according to the company. 

CEO of Space Machines Company Rajat Kulshrestha said: “Logistics is the new frontier in space innovation. 

“Space-based technology underpins a lot of the daily conveniences Australians have come to expect such as weather forecasting, emergency management, internet access and online banking. 

“To support and fully commercialise the potential of in-space service delivery, the right logistics infrastructure needs to be in place.”

NSW minister for enterprise Stuart Ayres applauded Space Machines Company on its continued development and investment in Australian space and satellite technology. 

Ayres said: “Space Machines is at the forefront of Australia’s space technology and the NSW Government is proud to support its work.

“Having previously supported the company through our Going Global Space to the USA Export Program, and as part of a remote delegation for IAC 2021, Space Machines continues to demonstrate its global value proposition and ability to advance technologies that Australians have the privilege to enjoy every day.”

The SpaceX deal follows SMC’s expansion to India, with the opening of new offices in Bangalore to foster technological collaboration between the two countries. The company has also deepened its executive and advisory teams with two key appointments. 

Mark Ramsey joins Space Machine’s executive team as Chief Operating Officer (COO). Mr Ramsey has nearly 20 years of experience in the Space and Defence sectors, including Executive Director and General Manager of SITAEL Australia and executive roles at Lockheed Martin, Thales Alenia Space, BAE Systems and NewSat. He is deputy chair and current director of the Space Industry Association of Australia (SIAA). 

In addition, Anthony Kittel founder and CEO of advanced electronics manufacturer, Redarc Electronics, joins SMC as an Advisory Board member.