From the beginning Dr Matthew Tetlow set his sights on a career of high achievement – atmospherically high.
After completing his PhD in aerospace engineering at the University of Adelaide in 2003, Matthew conducted contract research for some of the biggest names in the space ecosystem: the Royal Australian Air Force, the Defence Science and Technology Group, the United States Navy and Air Force, Boeing, and NASA.
In his latest venture he is founder and CEO of Inovor Technologies, a space start-up established in Adelaide in August 2012, and now employing seven people from offices right here at ThincLab.
Among his achievements, Matthew has helped develop next-generation aircraft water-landing technologies; become a research fellow here at the University; launched Inovor; and even finds time to be chief technology officer for another space-oriented start-up in Adelaide called ‘Fleet Space Technologies’.
But amidst all this is one clear highlight.
In April 2017, an Inovor nanosatellite—built in Adelaide with the help of around 50 University of Adelaide and University of South Australia students—was launched by NASA on the Atlas V rocket bound for the International Space Station.
Everything you would expect to see in a full-scale satellite can be found in our nanosatellite,says Matthew.
“We have a thermal regulation system, communications and autonomous control systems and solar panels to provide energy. It even has its own computer to handle the scientific experiments.”
“The whole project has been an invaluable experience for the many students who’ve worked on it. It’s not everyday student engineers get to help build a satellite to be launched by NASA.”
The Inovor satellite is one of three developed in Australia under the European-funded project QB50, which has established an international network of 50 ‘CubeSats’ as they are known.
“These are the first Australian-built satellites in 15 years to be launched into space by NASA,” says Matthew.
Mid 2017 the satellites will be deployed from the International Space Station into the thermosphere, a layer of atmosphere 95km to 500km above the earth’s surface.
The CubeSat’s, each no bigger than a loaf of bread, will remain in Earth’s orbit for around 12 months.
Each CubeSat will take a variety of measurements to help scientists’ understand the thermosphere’s relationship to other layers of the atmosphere, and its effect on our climate.
“It was incredibly exciting to see our spacecraft launched to the International Space Station and know that it will play an important part in this research,” says Matthew.
On the first day of the CubeSats’ deployment alone we’ll double our understanding of the thermosphere and its impact.
While we all wait with anticipation for the release of the Cubsat’s, the team at Inovor aren’t resting. Matthew’s already set his team a challenging new goal.
“We want to master space situational awareness,” he enthuses, “the ability to view, understand and predict the physical location of natural and man-made objects orbiting Earth, with the objective of avoiding collisions.”