Over the weekend we ran a mini-space festival in Melbourne, Australia, to launch Gemini Melbourne — a collection of space bootcamps, incubators and accelerators designed to engage the local community, to promote the use of space to solve massive problems facing humanity, and to stimulate economic growth through enabling a thriving space industry.

Events included the NASA Space Apps Challenge, interviews with prominent space leaders, workshops and seminars on topics from space tech ethics to the art of communicating complex ideas, as well as a space industry mixer.


Kicking off at 9 am on Saturday morning, we opened the doors of the Victorian Innovation Hub to the public, and the hackathon participants began to filter into the venue. Saturday was a busy day, starting with a series of ice breaker events to raise the energy of the venue, before engaging in a large round table discussion about the new space industry, how today the average person can access space and start a real space business for less cost than starting a McDonald’s franchise, and what some of the big problems and technologies that exist today.

Our first special guest of the day was Lauren Crystal of YourCreative and Hassl, to give a seminar about The Science of Branding New Industries.

Next up was Moonshot advisory board member and renowned startup master coach, Tristonne Forbes, who ran a workshop with all participants on how to turn an idea into a feasible project or business.

Tristonne teaching how to pitch effectively in only 2 sentences

In the afternoon I hosted a remote fireside chat with New Space Hub founder and SpaceX manager, John Tucker. We discussed how John found his way into the new space scene to become an international leader, and how a humble project based around a spreadsheet has become a successful website and resource for anyone looking to study the space industry.

Eirobotix demonstrated a collection of heavy-lift drones

The final seminar for the day was by Dr Evie Kendall, who is a qualified space ethiscist, and gave an engaging insight into why ethics needs to be a critical consideration when designing new technologies and businesses around them.

With such engaging seminars and interviews prepared for the general public, many of our participants were conflicted as they decided to either work on their solution or join the talk!

As 6:30 pm rolled around, so too did ticket holders of the Melbourne Space Industry Mixer — an industry event to promote space-related professionals, academic researchers and government representatives to mingle over light drinks and canapes. The event is also perfect for hackathon participants to test their ideas on real people from industry.

Around 40 people gathered for the mixer, while an Australis OSCAR 5 documentary played in the background

The mixer was a massive success We sold more tickets than expected and positive feedback continued to flow in throughout the night. A highly regarded event of the evening was the fireside chat with Richard Tonkin, one of the team members of the Australis OSCAR 5 team; who, as students in Melbourne in 1966, built a functioning satellite and had it launched into orbit by NASA a few years later. Many people did not realise Victoria had such long standing and inspirational space heritage.

Before midnight, those that were left helped tidy up the venue in preparation for day-2 of the hackathon.

Day 2 was much more focused. With hackathon judging commencing at 4 pm, and one interview — with ex-NASA astronaut, Greg H. Johnson — the focus was on solution and pitch strategy and practice. The teams put their heads down, warmed up their voices, and produced some truly innovative products.


Fireside chat with ex-NASA astronaut, Greg H. Johnson

Sharks in Outer Space

Our judging panel consisted of Moonshot CEO, Troy McCann, Moonshot Advisor, Grant Downie, and Melbourne startup community leader, Nathan Gunn. Prizes were offered for first, second and third place, as well as a people’s choice award. There were framed certificates, books, m&m buckets, stickers and drones all up for grabs.

The prize table

It was an amazing effort by everyone involved. Pitches included a diverse range of problems and solutions, from the intricacies of space law and how to make regulation easier to navigate, to using nitrogen gas fueled space drones to inspect and repair spacecraft like R2D2 in Star Wars.

Judging was a tough process, with a few very close contenders. Ultimately, the following winners were announced:

3rd place: Jacqueline Saykao, biotechnology graduate, of Frontier Innovations proposes a bioreactor to enable space-based colonies to create medicines on demand
2nd place: Luke Harris created AR Rocket, an Augmented Reality app to make the classroom a more engaging place for learning
1st place and also winners of the People’s Choice Award: Skylink — a marketplace to improve access to ground station infrastructure by satellite operators

Closing Remarks

The Gemini Melbourne launch weekend was an amazing and successful celebration of space technology in Victoria.

I’d like to give a special thanks to everyone named below (in no particular order), for your assistance and hard work whether as a mentor, facilitator, speaker, or partner. Without your input this event would not have been possible.

  • Grant Downie
  • Nicola Ojerholm
  • Mitchell Manganaro
  • Kati Elizabeth
  • Jasmina Galloway
  • Leo Gui
  • Nathan Gunn
  • Tristonne Forbes
  • Lauren Crystal
  • Kate Rubins
  • Evie Kendall
  • John Tucker
  • Richard Tonkin and the Australis OSCAR 5 team
  • Greg Johnson
  • Tucker Gumber
  • Nick Mills
  • LaunchVic
  • Dr. Amanda Caples and the office of the Lead Scientist of Victoria

A special thanks to all the participants, from those who attended the public events, to the hackathon participants, and those who joined us for the industry mixer.

This event will be back again in March 2019, even bigger and better, so stay tuned. 🚀

If you’re interested in participating or partnering with Moonshot in the future, please get in tough with us at info@moonshotspace.co.