Fleet Space Technologies has signed a AUD$6.4 million contract with Australia’s Defence Space Command, marking their first defence contract. The agreement will see Fleet’s next-generation of Centauri satellites used to develop and demonstrate a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications system focused on tactical communications and data transmission where connectivity is limited.
The programme, named ASCEND2LEO, will make use of Fleet’s commercial satellites. A collaboration between government, defence industry and academia. Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), Fleet Space Technologies, University of South Australia, Rice Satcom Pty Ltd and SmartSat CRC are taking advanced research and technologies to demonstrate LEO capabilities to the war fighter. This innovative approach enables Defence to take advantage of the most modern commercial space technology used by the mining industry with the most up-to-date research to rapidly advance space capabilities, the company said in an April 20 statement.
“We’re excited to collaborate with Defence Space Command and our partners to deliver new capabilities from low Earth orbit. This is only the beginning and we envision Australian satellites supporting national security across land, air, sea and space by connecting our people, our assets and by enabling radical ideas in autonomy and emerging technologies. We’re investing heavily in advanced manufacturing, high tech engineering talent, and have a laser focus on delivering innovative solutions at scale for our customers worldwide,” said Matt Pearson, Chief Exploration Officer and Co-Founder, Fleet Space Technologies.
Colonel Clifford White, Director Space Services at Defence Space Command commented on the partnership: “Australia is fortunate to have a talented space industry with an inventive spirit. Space is operationally critical to the achievement of the Defence mission, and this is an example of innovative way to advance our capability and support the development of a sustainable national space enterprise. We look forward to working with Fleet Space as they bring new approaches to enhance satellite communication capabilities to meet Defence’s needs.”
Professor Andy Koronios, CEO of SmartSat said: “ASCEND2LEO is an ambitious project and a prime example of how SmartSat can help our partners successfully develop and demonstrate innovative Australian technology to customers such as Defence. It delivers one of the Defence Space Strategy objectives, being that ‘Defence may benefit from repurposing civilian technology for military means, without having to invest in R&D or venture incubation’. SmartSat was able to work with Fleet to develop a proposal to do just this – repurpose technology being used for world leading mineral exploration, and technology SmartSat developed to build more resilient Search and Rescue infrastructure, into a demonstration of tactical voice communications.”
As an emerging Australian force in the global ‘New Space’ industry, Fleet Space has a unique opportunity to develop and embrace cutting-edge technologies and methodologies for domestic satellite technology production. The company’s key capabilities are low-power, high-performance edge computing in small spacecraft and terrestrial devices, as well as additive manufacturing. By leveraging Australian competitive strengths, Fleet Space will complement, augment, and reinforce sovereign space capability for the nation and its allies.
Fleet Space’s AUD$6.4 million contract with Australia’s Defence Space Command marks the company’s first foray into the defence sector, as their Centauri satellites will be used to develop a LEO satellite communications system under the program ASCEND2LEO. This partnership aims to advance the domestically-led national space and defence industry by utilising Australia’s competitive strengths.
In addition to expanding into the defence sector with their ground breaking LEO satellite communications systems, Fleet Space continues to innovate and diversify their offerings with their ExoSphere system, providing a cutting-edge solution for mining exploration. This comprises highly portable sensors called Geodes, which use ambient noise tomography (ANT) to collect subsurface data. This data is beamed to the ExoSphere constellation of LEO satellites, then relayed to computers that use machine learning to generate detailed 3D subsurface maps. This will help guide explorers to find the resources needed to build our sovereign mineral wealth for Australia’s future industries and energy security. With their focus on developing and embracing new technologies and methodologies, Fleet Space is poised to become a leader in Australia’s growing space and defence industry. –fs/adj/mhi (Pix: Fleet Space)