Meet Kanyini, South Australia’s first satellite

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Students capture the spirit of South Australia’s great space adventure.

Learn about the first satellite to be sent to space by Australia, and the origins of its name in this resource for Year 5, 7 and 10 students interested in technology and space.

Word count: 350

Artist’s impression of Kanyini in orbit. Credit: SA Space Services Mission.

The Pitjantjatjara word ‘Kanyini’ means “an enormous caring with no limit; it has no timeframe and is eternal”. It’s also the name of the first satellite designed and built in South Australia – a name put forward by Findon High School students and chosen out of entries from 57 schools across the state.

“Kanyini means responsibility and unconditional love for all of creation and encompasses the key principles of Aboriginal life including creation (tjukurrpa), soul (kurunpa), family (walytja), and land (ngura),” according to the Kanyini Space Services Mission’s website.

And the choice has sent spirits soaring.

APY Lands General Manager, Richard King, has welcomed the name.

“All communities on the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands are proud that the word ‘Kanyini’, a tenet of our ancient language, will be used for the new satellite,” he said in a statement.

“The combination of ancient Australia and modern Australia coming together in this new space frontier will be a matter of great celebration for the first South Australians of Central Australian Deserts.”

This small satellite is the first of its kind in Australia. It’s being designed, built and tested entirely in SA by local space tech company Inovor Technologies.

The students who put forth the name were Year 11s from Findon High School’s Reconciliation Action Plan group.

Andy Koronios, chief executive of SmartSat CRC, the company leading the Kanyini mission, said he hoped the competition “will spark the imagination of young people around our state, not only to submit a name for the satellite, but also to picture themselves pursuing a career in the space industry right here in South Australia”.

Kanyini will be launched into low-Earth orbit in 2022 and will spend three years circling the planet, collecting Earth-observation data. Adelaide-based company Myriota will provide Internet of Things (IoT) services to manage this data.

The data will inform decisions around water use, climate policy, mining and emergency management. The mission’s website notes that examples include “aiding farmers in monitoring water levels so they can more accurately predict future crop yields and supporting emergency services personnel to monitor, manage and mitigate emergencies like bushfires”.

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Years: 5, 7, 10


Earth and Space Sciences – The Solar System

Additional – Careers, Technology, Engineering.

Concepts (South Australia):

Earth and Space Sciences – Earth in Space


5, 7 & 10