Adelaide-based satellite technology startup Fleet Space Technologies has landed its first contract in the lucrative defense sector by signing a $6.4 million contract with Australia’s Defense Space Command.
Through the agreement, Fleet’s next-generation Centauri satellites will be used to develop and demonstrate a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite communications system aimed at tactical communications and data transmission where connectivity is limited.
Fleet’s Centauri satellites will be used to develop a LEO satellite communications system under a program called ASCEND2LEO. It is a collaboration between the Defense Science and Technology Group (DSTG), Fleet, University of South Australia, Rice Satcom Pty Ltd and SmartSat CRC, aimed at demonstrating LEO capabilities in combat and developing the domestically led national aerospace and defense industry.
Colonel Clifford White, Defense Space Command director of space services, said Australia has a “talented aerospace industry with an inventive mind” that can contribute to military logistics.
“Space is operationally critical to the achievement of the defense mission, and this is an example of an innovative way to enhance our capability and support the development of a sustainable national space enterprise,” he said.
“We look forward to working with Fleet Space as they provide new approaches to enhance satellite communications capabilities to meet Defense needs.”
SmartSat CEO Professor Any Koronios CEO said ASCEND2LEO is an ambitious project.
“It delivers on one of the objectives of the Defense Space Strategy, which is that ‘Defense can benefit from repurposing civilian technology for military purposes, without having to invest in R&D or enterprise incubation,’ she said.
“SmartSat was able to work with Fleet to develop a proposal to do just this: re-use technology used for leading-edge mineral exploration, and technology that SmartSat has developed to provide a more resilient search and rescue infrastructure. to build, in a demonstration of tactical voice communication.”
Fleet Space has focused on the development of low-power, high-performance edge computing in small satellites and terrestrial devices, as well as additive manufacturing and has a strong customer base in the mineral exploration mining sector.