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Scholarship details

2023 RTP round - Building More Reliable Small Spacecraft

Status: Closed

Applications open: 8/07/2022
Applications close: 18/08/2022

View printable version [.pdf]

About this scholarship

The Space Science and Technology Centre at Curtin University is building highly capable small spacecraft within its Binar Space Program. Our first spacecraft Binar-1 which trialled our ultra-compact spacecraft platform was launched in October 2021, and we’re currently building the next three spacecraft, Binar-2, Binar-3 and Binar-4, for launch in 2023. With each iteration we are evolving our capability whilst retaining a highly compact platform which keeps around 70% of a 1U CubeSat available for mission payload. As we prepare for our flagship mission, Binar Prospector, which will travel to a low altitude orbit around the Moon and search for resources to enable the next era of space exploration, we are interested in exploring new ways to increase the reliability of small spacecraft.

As small spacecraft are increasingly travelling beyond low Earth orbit, there is an increasing need to increase the fault tolerance to produce more reliable spacecraft, but this has to be implemented without significantly increasing cost, mass and volume to retain the cost and timeline advantages of small spacecraft missions. This project aims to investigate ways to build small spacecraft with additional fault tolerance while minimising the added complexity to better inform the space systems architecture used on future Binar space missions. Initial investigations will focus on producing a ground based prototypes demonstrating networked microcontroller or FPGA based flight computers to demonstrate and characterise their performance under hot spare, cold spare, supervisory and load sharing redundancy configurations. Following the testing of the ground prototype, a demonstration flight model will be developed for on-orbit testing based on the lessons learned from the ground testing phase. The key outcomes will be lessons learned on developing small spacecraft system architectures with increased redundancy but minimal complexity, results from testing and iterating the ground prototypes, results from the on-orbit demonstration and the associated publications.

The work will involve space system architecture design, embedded software development, embedded electronics hardware development and assembly, ground testing in relevant environments (thermal vacuum chamber, vibration testing), flight qualification, on orbit operations and publication.

This project will present opportunities to build hardware and develop software that will fly in space and opportunities to engage with SSTC’s industry partners. 

An Internship opportunity may also be available with this project.

  • Future Students
  • Faculty of Science & Engineering
    • Science courses
    • Engineering courses
    • Western Australian School of Mines (WASM)
  • Higher Degree by Research
  • Australian Citizen
  • Australian Permanent Resident
  • New Zealand Citizen
  • Permanent Humanitarian Visa
  • Merit Based

The annual scholarship package (stipend and tuition fees) is approx. $60,000 - $70,000 p.a.


Successful HDR applicants for admission will receive a 100% fee offset for up to 4 years, stipend scholarships, valued at $28,854 p.a. for up to a maximum of 3.5 years, are determined via a competitive selection process. Applicants will be notified of the scholarship outcome in November 2022. 


For detailed information, visit: Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarships | Curtin University, Perth, Australia.

Scholarship Details


All applicable HDR courses

This project is ideal for an applicant interested in building more capable small spacecraft (CubeSats) with a keen interest in electronics design, embedded software, communications or IoT. The suitable applicant will be an excellent communicator who understands the bigger picture and is likely to have a background in embedded systems engineering, electronic engineering, software development, mechatronics engineering or communications engineering. The suitable applicant should have achieved first-class honours in a relevant undergraduate degree and be able to demonstrate experience conducting a successful project. 

Application process

If this project excites you, and your research skills and experience are a good fit for this specific project, you should contact the Project Lead (listed below in the enquires section) via the Expression of Interest (EOI) form.

Enrolment Requirements

Eligible to enrol in a Higher Degree by Research Course at Curtin University by March 2023


To enquire about this project opportunity that includes a scholarship application, contact the Project lead, Dr Robert Howie via the EOI form above.

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