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Fleet Space Technologies wins $6.4M Australian Defence Space Command contract

Fleet Space’s Centauri 5 satellite which has a 64-element phased array communications antenna which will be 3-D printed by the company in Adelaide. Image: Fleet Space Technologies

Adelaide-based Fleet Space Technologies has signed a $6.4 million contract with Australia’s Defence Space Command. The contract will see Fleet’s next-generation of Centauri commercial 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 program, named ASCEND2LEO, will be a collaboration between government, defence industry and academia. Defence’s 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.

Fleet Space’s $6.4 million contract marks the company’s first foray into the defence sector. This partnership aims to advance the domestically-led national space and defence industry by utilising Australia’s competitive strengths.

“ASCEND2LEO … 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’,” said Professor Andy Koronios, CEO of the SmartSat  CRC.  “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.”

“We’re excited to collaborate with Defence Space Command and our partners to deliver new capabilities from low Earth orbit” says Mr Matt Pearson, Chief Exploration Officer and co-founder of Fleet Space Technologies. “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.”

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.”

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, says the company. Its 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.

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