This summer, I undertook a Mechanical Engineering Internship at Inovor Technologies. Inovor Technologies is a company specialising in the development of cubesats (i.e., satellites the size of a cereal box… or even smaller). Its office is located at Lot Fourteen, which is home to the Australian Space Agency, as well as other space companies such as Myriota, Neumann Space and SITAEL Australia. As a space-fanatic, I was thrilled to be given this opportunity to work at the heart of the Australian space sector.
At the beginning of the internship, I was pretty self-conscious about my inexperience. My first task was to design an instrument in CAD… and I discovered I was very bad at CAD. However, the engineers at Inovor were so patient with all my questions (even the ones that felt stupid), and I soon got the hang of it. I reminded myself that internships are a learning experience – no one expects a second year Uni student to have the same expertise as a fully qualified engineer! While the level of expertise at Inovor was pretty intimidating at first, I now find myself inspired – with a little more study and experience, that could be me.
Beyond engineering work, Inovor gave the interns many opportunities to experience the many facets of the space sector. Michael Davis AO gave us a lecture on international space law, opening my eyes to the business, legal, and philosophical challenges facing the space industry. Paddy Neumann gave us a tour of Neumann Space – a company developing plasma propulsion for space (the Halo nerd in me loved every minute). Peter from Gilmour Space Technologies gave us a presentation on the company’s incredible hybrid engine rockets. Anntonette Dailey gave us a tour of the Australian Space Agency, once again reminding me of the complex political and legal side of the space sector.
The tour of the Australian Space Agency.
The main takeaway from these amazing experiences is there is an opportunity in the space industry for everyone. Engineers and physicists get all the attention, but we also need lawyers, diplomats, farmers, accountants, journalists, and psychologists. Humanity’s voyage into space is a collaborative mission.
The sixth week of my internship was wild. I heard whispers around the office of a “big announcement” coming, but I had no clue what it could be about. I tried to get the Operations Manager, Ben, to play Hangman with me about the announcement, but to no avail. Then, on Wednesday the 20th of January, we were called into a company meeting and told that the South Australian Government was to send its first satellite into space… and Inovor was to design, build, and test it. This mission is a collaboration with Myriota and SmartSat SRC. Us interns got front row seats to the subsequent press conference and met the Premier. To say I was excited would be an understatement. I saw, first-hand, a historical moment in South Australia’s space journey, invigorating my goals for a career in space. Ad astra!
The tour of Neumann Space
About Tash: Tash is in her third year of a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) (Honours) with a Bachelor of Science. She spends her free time reading gothic fiction and listening to Folklore by Taylor Swift.