Satellite startup Fleet lands $6.4 million defence contract

- April 20, 2023 2 MIN READ
A Fleet Space Centauri 4 nanosatellite
A Fleet Space Centauri 4 nanosatellite
Adelaide satellite tech startup Fleet Space Technologies has bagged its first contract in the lucrative defence sector, signing a $6.4 million contract with Australia’s Defence Space Command.

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.

Fleet’s Centauri satellites will be used to develop a LEO satellite communications system under a program called ASCEND2LEO.  It’s a collaboration between the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), Fleet, University of South Australia, Rice Satcom Pty Ltd and SmartSat CRC aimed at demonstrating LEO capabilities in battle as well as developing the domestically-led national space and defence industry.

Defence Space Command director of space services Colonel Clifford White said Australia has a “talented space industry with an inventive spirit” that can add to military logistics.

“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,” he said.

“We look forward to working with Fleet Space as they bring new approaches to enhance satellite communication capabilities to meet Defence’s needs.”

SmartSat CEO Professor Any Koronios CEO said ASCEND2LEO is an ambitious project.

“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’, she said.

“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.”

Fleet Space has focused on developing low-power, high-performance edge computing in small satellites and terrestrial devices, as well as additive manufacturing and has a strong client base in the mining sector for minerals exploration.

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