Adelaide startup Fleet Space Technologies has opened its mission control centre ahead of the planned launch of two of its nanosatellites later this year.
Located at Red Banks Reservoir in Pinkerton Plains, the ground station will operate 24 hours a day, tracking and receiving data from nanosatellites. Made possible in part by matched funding by the South Australian government, it will also be open to other space startups.
Flavia Tata Nardini, cofounder and CEO of Fleet, said the ground station opens “endless possibilities” to track nanosatellites in even the most remote parts of the world.
Founded Tata Nardini, Matt Pearson, and Dr Matthew Tetlow in 2015, the startup aims to launch a network of more than 100 nanosatellites to create a global network enabling low-bandwidth connectivity for Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
“The ground station will break barriers for space startups locally and abroad creating opportunities that were previously only available to large organisations. We’re democratising space and advancing global collaboration,” Tata Nardini said.
According to Tata Nardini, the ground station has gone from idea to reality in less than six months.
“It’s a huge achievement for a small startup to receive leasing rights, let alone build a fully functioning mission control centre within this short timeframe,” she said.
“We’re proud that we can start working on this; owning and operating a ground station in Australia is a key part of ensuring we can deliver world class service with our satellites for our customers.”
It was built in collaboration with Leaf Space, an Italian satellite ground segment service provider, which supplied a turn key satellite dish integrated with monitoring and control systems that allow for the receiving of radio waves from nanosatellites in orbit.
The launch of the ground station follows Fleet’s announcement last month that it has secured launch partners for two of its nanosatellites.
The first nanosatellite is contracted to take off with launch services and mission management provider Spaceflight, on an Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), while the second will be part of Spaceflight’s SSO-A mission. This mission will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, with Spaceflight having a contract to launch a collection of small satellites with SpaceX.
The startup last week received the Overseas Launch Certificate from the government to allow the satellites to be deployed.
“While we’re all for enabling broader access to space, it has to be done in a regulated way. Getting these two certificates from the Australian government demonstrates how hard the team has worked to ensure we have all the correct approvals in place before launching,” Tata Nardini said.
It comes after the official launch of the Australian space agency on July 1. With former CSIRO head Dr Megan Clark at the helm, the agency is expected to announce the location of its headquarters in the coming months.
Image: Flavia Tata Nardini. Source: Supplied.