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Young Kiwi space entrepreneurs prepare for lift off with satellite prototype

A young New Zealand start-up’s preparing to launch the next big thing to hit the space industry.

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Astrix Astronautics’ Fia Jones has raised $500,000 to send their satellite deployment technology into space. Source: Breakfast

Astrix Astronautics is sending its inflatable satellite deployment prototype to the stars in July, with the backing of industry heavyweights, RocketLab.

It’s the brainchild of 21-year-old Fia Jones and her two co-founders Will Hunter and Max Daniels, who came up with the idea during a space programme at Auckland University two years ago. 

The point of the competition was to find a way to use a particular kind of satellite that’s as small as a coffee mug. 

“We had all these different kinds of mission concepts that we wanted to do with those,” she told Breakfast. 

“But what we found was the main problem for all these mission concepts as they’re very power deprived and power-hungry, so we started to tackle that problem instead.” 

Their prototype moves away from having mechanical moving parts like its alternatives, which Jones described as “very bulky and unreliable”. 

Astrix’s solar array technology fuses power generation and storage into a singular structure to harness energy from the sun to power satellites. 

The trio’s already secured a whopping $500,000 in funding for the company’s endeavour. 

They’ve successfully trialled the technology several times, with the help of the vacuum chamber in RocketLab’s Auckland facility but the real test will be when it’s sent up to space. 

If all goes well, there’s hope to one day progress upwards to supporting bigger satellites with their trailblazing technology.