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19 May, 2022  |  Read Time: 5 minutes  |  Missions

Binar Bulletin – May 2022

It’s been a while since we’ve given you an update about what the Binar team is up to. We’ve got an update on Binar-1, news about our next launch and our school program, and a moon mission in the works too. Let’s dive right in!


After a successful mission testing our home-grown technology in space, we’re no longer communicating with Binar-1. While we’re still checking our antennas regularly, it’s unlikely that we’ll hear from it again until it becomes a different kind of binar – a fireball re-entering earth’s atmosphere.

The weakest link in small spacecraft like ours is the batteries, and we think that’s what sealed Binar-1’s fate. Our batteries need to be above a certain temperature to work – and to keep them warm with our electrical battery heaters, we need working batteries. Once the system gets too cold, it’s very difficult to get it running again, as NASA’s Mars helicopter team discovered recently too.



The Binar-1 team have moved their focus to analysing and publishing results from the project. It’s a chance for us to share what we’ve learned with the rest of the satellite community – and for us to think about what we’d do differently next time.

Which brings us to…

Launch 2

Our second launch of three 1U cubesats is currently charging towards its Critical Design Review (or CDR). As well as incorporating a bunch of improvements based on what we’ve learned from Binar-1, we’ve also had to make changes to work around the ongoing chip shortage – thanks, COVID.


The design work on Binar-2, Binar-3 and Binar-4 is mostly complete, and we have a contract for our launch. However, it’s taking a little longer than expected to find the parts we need to build them – again, thanks, COVID. Although we design and make a lot of parts (like our new comms boards) for our spacecraft ourselves, there’s a few things we do need to get elsewhere and the global chip shortage is making that tricky.

Once we’ve got the parts we need, we’ll be on track to start building our engineering model for testing, then our flight models for launch next year. If you know anyone with a stash of microchips they’re not using, let us know!


Speaking of learning, our program to get kids building payloads is go! We had sixty kids from up to Curtin at the end of last term. They got some hands on experience with satellite hardware, testing, and communications – and spent some time brainstorm concepts with our team.


This term is all about developing those mission concepts, with the BinarX Mission Concept Review (MCR) taking place once the term is over. The MCR is all about figuring out what we want to do – it’s the first big milestone in sending a mission to space. Since our missions are student-led, we’re putting that decision in their hands – we’ll be there to give some feedback and recommendations, but the choice of what to send up there will be down to them.

As always, you can follow along with what we’re up to online – and we do mean follow along! We’ve got three schools helping us build and pilot BinarX, but we’re also locked in for next year and beyond. You don’t need to be “in” BinarX right now to have BinarX in your classroom, club or community today! [Everything you need is here](BinarX Page).

(And if you’re wondering why programs like this are so important, have a listen to our Director Phil Bland chatting about it with The Science Show on ABC.)


Binar Prospector

And finally, Prospector, our mission to hunt for water ice and build a magnetic map of the moon, is heading for Preliminary Design Review. If MCR is all about figuring out what you want to do, PDR is about starting to figure out how – we’re going from an idea to a plan.

We know we want to search for ice in craters that never see the sun, and map the moon’s magnetic field at a higher resolution than ever before. But how can we do that? What types of sensors do we need?


How much data are we going to send back, and what kind of antenna are we going to need to do it? What orbit do we need to be in, and what kind of engine do we need to get there?

How much solar power do we need to be to make all that work?  And how big does our spacecraft have to be to fit all of that in?

PDR is when we do the groundwork to figure all this out, and we’re hoping to have it wrapped up by July 1.

And the rest…

That’s just the big stuff. You might also have heard about our adventures in optical communications with NASA JPL spin-off Chascii, or our campaign to get more science in Australia’s space industry. If you haven’t, check them out. We’ll be publishing more regular updates as our missions develop, so stay tuned here and follow us on social media to join our odyssey!


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