Adelaide based Fleet Space Technologies has celebrated the company’s first foray into the defence sector, signing a $6.4 million contract with Australia’s Defence Space Command.

The agreement will see Fleet’s Centauri satellites used to develop a low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite communications system for tactical communications and data transmission where there is limited connectivity.

Named ASCEND2LEO, the project is a collaboration between Fleet, SmartSat CRC, Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), University of South Australia and Rice Satcom Pty Ltd. It will allow Defence to take advantage of the most modern commercial space technology that is currently used by the mining industry.

Chief Exploration Officer and Co-Founder of Fleet, Matt Pearson, said they are excited to collaborate to deliver new capabilities from LEO.

“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,” said Mr Pearson.

“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.”

CEO of SmartSat CRC, Professor Andy Koronios explained the team worked with Fleet to develop a proposal for ASCEND2LEO that repurposes existing technology into a demonstration of tactical voice communications.

“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,” said Professor Koronios.

“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.”

Colonel Clifford White, Director Space Services at Defence Space Command, said they are looking forward to working on the project to enhance satellite communications to meet Defence’s needs.

“Australia is fortunate to have a talented space industry with an inventive spirit,” said Colonel White.

“Space is operationally critical to the achievement of the Defence mission, and this is an example of innovative ways to advance our capability and support the development of a sustainable national space enterprise.”

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