Western Space teaming with international partners to develop deep space missions

During a virtual event on Wednesday afternoon, Western University’s Institute for Earth and Space Exploration (Western Space) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the MILO Institute, to develop deep space missions.

The MILO Institute is a non-profit research collaborative led by Arizona State University, with support from Lockheed Martin and GEOshare, a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin.

In signing this MOU, Western Space and the MILO Institute will work together to develop low-cost space missions.

“It’s a very exciting day for us here at Western…you can't get much better than that, except maybe launching yourself into space,” says Gordon Osinski, a Western professor and director at the Institute for Earth and Space Exploration.

One objective for the MOU is to launch an instrument called a CubeSat to the lunar surface. A CubeSat is a square shaped satellite roughly the size of a Rubik’s Cube. It's in the process of being built by Western researchers.

The CubeSat is a prototype that will be launched at the International Space Station. A bigger version of the CubeSat will be launched in 2022 if the first expedition is successful.

Jayshri Sabarinathan, associate director at Western Space, has been contributing to the build of the prototype CubeSat for two years now.

“What we build here is actually going to fly in space, for me that has been my dream all my life.”

Sabarinathan says the CubeSat will house a 360 degree virtual-reality camera.

“That image will have a 360 degree view so when you actually look at the image one side you will see space and when you look at one side you’ll see earth,” Sabarinathan says.

Western funds and builds the CubeSat but gets a free ride to space, with the MILO Institute paying for the launch opportunity - which equals to thousands of dollars in contributions.