seL4 kernel to head into space

Government gives go-ahead to launch of Australian CubeSats

UNSW's Dr Joon Wayn Cheong examining stack alignment on the UNSW-EC0 QB50 CubeSat nanosatellite. Image credit: UNSW.

UNSW's Dr Joon Wayn Cheong examining stack alignment on the UNSW-EC0 QB50 CubeSat nanosatellite. Image credit: UNSW.

The NICTA-developed super-secure seL4 microkernel will head into space later this year as one of a number of experiments set to be carried out by Australian built ‘CubeSats’. The federal government yesterday said it had officially authorised the launch of three miniature ‘CubeSats’ as part of the QB50 project.

The satellites are being put together by teams at the University of Sydney, UNSW and the University of Adelaide.

A 1U CubeSat measures 10x10x10 cm and weigh around 1kg. The QB50 project will use a network of 50 2U CubeSats (measuring 20x10x10cm) to conduct research on the thermosphere. The satellites will be deployed from the International Space Station later this year.

As well as conducting atmospheric research, the satellites are packed full of additional experiments, which in the case of the UNSW-constructed CubeSat includes running the seL4 microkernel in space.

The open source, Australian-developed secure microkernel hit version 2.0.0 in November last year. The project’s custodian is the Trustworthy Systems Team at Data61 (the organisation born out of the fusion of NICTA and the CSIRO’s digital productivity team).

Industry, innovation and science minister Greg Hunt announced that the three satellites had been granted Overseas Launch Certificates. The CubeSats are expected to launch from the US in December, a statement issued by Hunt said.

Hunt also announced that the government’s Global Innovation Linkages had opened for applications. The program will offer researchers and businesses grants of up to $1 million to help them collaborate with global partners on R&D and commercialisation projects.

The government said the program will provide funding of $18 million over five years “to help businesses collaborate to develop high quality products, services or processes that respond to strategically important industry challenges for Australia”.

The program is part of the government’s National Innovation and Science Agenda.

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