HISTORY OF MSP
How it started
With roots in the Melbourne School of Engineering, the Melbourne Space Program (MSP) was initially formed by a group of ambitious students working on a student engineering project. It began with an open invitation from the Centre for Neural Engineering, calling on students interested in building a nano-satellite that was to be launched in 2018. In the two years that followed, there was a lot of interest in the program. The small team of engineering students quickly grew popular, expanding from a handful of students to over 100 members. Further, the scope expanded from building a single nano-satellite to building a series of nano-satellites, each aimed at addressing real problems facing the Australian space industry.
How it changed
Nowadays, as a registered Not-For-Profit entity, MSP's goal is centred on education and training, through the use of nano-satellite projects. The projects allow students to build systems from scratch and gain technical knowledge. The business sustainability department volunteers gain knowledge around the many difficult policies, rules and legal obstacles surrounding the Australian space sector. The Creative Communications department volunteers delve deeper into the communication aspects surrounding space programs and the ever-changing industry. All MSP members have the opportunity to develop their soft skills and learn how to work successfully within an organisational setting. The skills MSP members gain make them job-ready graduates, able to seamlessly transition into industry positions upon graduation.
Since starting the project, the team has had to overcome many technical, financial, and legal challenges. ACRUX-1 had to be designed and fabricated from scratch, with all subsystems and many parts being designed and created by students. Many engineering challenges including integration testing (testing the operation of the satellite while best-simulating conditions in space), mission scoping, and other launch-related difficulties were dealt with, paving the way for more satellites in the future. The obstacle of limited funding had to be surmounted through gaining grant funding and running the project on a tight budget. Many legal hurdles also had to be cleared including frequency acquisition, export licenses, and contract negotiations.
All of these challenges that have been encountered and overcome have made the team more capable and ready to build more satellites. Further, the knowledge gained from this process has placed the Melbourne Space Program in a prime position to influence the growth of the Australian space sector, as well as training future members of the Australian industry.