Toasters in Space - Esper Satellite Imagery preparing for space launch

 29 September 2021

Image of Shoaib and Joey from Esper Satellite Imagery

A Monash-based start-up is on a mission to build high-tech cameras for satellites that will help tackle climate change from space.

The young innovators are perfecting this technology in a lab at Eastern Innovation (EI) in Mulgrave

Esper Satellite Imagery CEO Shoaib Iqbal, 21, is still finishing his bachelor’s degree in Space Science, but he and his team are on the cusp of launching two toaster-sized cameras on two separate satellites in 2022 to test the capabilities of their data-gathering technology.

Shoaib says the cameras that will be attached to the satellites use hyperspectral imagery - a technology that captures hundreds of wavelengths of light across a large spectrum - and that data can be used to improve the sustainable use of the earth's resources.

“It’s not new technology, but we’re putting our own spin on it,” Shoaib said.

He said the data gleaned from the high-tech cameras will be particularly useful for the agriculture and mining industries in accurately detecting and assessing things like minerals in the earth, soil quality and moisture.

“The data will help farmers to best optimise irrigation, determine the best time to harvest and detect plant disease at an early stage,” he said. “For mining, the data gathered from the satellite technology can influence extraction of minerals in an environmentally-sustainable and efficient way.”

The project started in the garage of Esper Satellite’s cofounder, Joey Lorenczak’s family home in Berwick before joining other innovative enterprises at EI.

Shoaib and Joey met at university and the pair went to a university hackathon, called Unihack, in 2019 with their space idea. They won the hackathon, and the seeds of Esper Satellite Imagery were planted.

Shoaib says the team is fully-focused on the space launch of their cameras and already has customers lined-up who are keen to use the data they gather in their businesses.

Eastern Innovation CEO Danielle Storey says Esper Satellite Imagery is creating the kind of products that people traditionally wait for “the big guys” to develop.

“These young innovators are powering ahead and doing it, and it’s fantastic,” she said.

She said that not only was the team focused on the technology and innovation but also on all aspects of pursuing business excellence to ensure the long-term viability of the company.

“It’s an exciting energy that we love to have at Eastern Innovation,” she said.

Shoaib said he was attracted to move the team’s operations to Eastern Innovation because of the venue’s flexibility and purpose-built lab facilities.

“We are continually working on attracting funding for each stage of our project,” he said. “We don’t have the resources currently to sign a multi-year lease or build our own lab.

“We’re a small team finding our way, trying to build this thing and Eastern Innovation is a great place for us to be.”

For more information go to Esper Satellite Technology and Eastern Innovation



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