Adelaide-based satellite manufacturer Fleet Space Technologies has successfully launched its fifth nanosatellite, Centauri 3.
The satellite was launched from NZ’s Launch Complex 1 at Mahia Peninsula aboard a Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle named ‘They Go Up So Fast’.
The 10 kilogram nanosatellite entered its pre-planned orbit, 550 kilometres above the earth, on schedule, and was sending full telemetry data on its third pass. Over the next few days, the satellite will begin commissioning and engage in full operations.
“We’re very excited because Centauri 3 will demonstrate our Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) capabilities by linking multiple remote sensors monitoring critical infrastructure such as remote mine sites, gas pipelines and rurally dispersed electricity pylons with central base stations, 24 hours a day,” Fleet Space CEO and co-founder Flavia Tata Nardini said.
“The Centauri 3 nanosatellite – our fifth commercial nanosatellite and our most advanced payload yet - will be joined by two more this year and a further 16 during 2022 and 2023.”
The company says these later satellites will have much greater signal throughput and their greater numbers will deliver a continuous service to customers worldwide.
Centauri 3 and the other nanosatellites’ IoT communications payloads aim to connect thousands of sensors monitoring critical infrastructure across the world with their owners’ and managers’ base stations in real time. The full constellation of 140 satellites could generate a lifetime revenue of $1.82 billion, Tata Nardini said.
The payload includes a lightweight beam-steering antenna, an AI-driven computer server and satellite modem, all designed in-house.
Fleet Space believes the service needs a constellation of 140 such satellites, of which about 50 will need replacement every year as their Low Earth Orbits (LEO) decay. To meet this demand, it has applied for a $5 million grant under the Australian government’s Modern Manufacturing Initiative (MMI) to establish an advanced manufacturing capability in Adelaide to produce these satellites.
The grant, matched by capital raised by Fleet Space itself, will make it possible to manufacture the entire satellite payload by itself, Tata Nardini said.
“For the first time, we’ll be able to 3D print our innovative beam-steering antenna here in Australia,” she said. “We design the antenna and all of the rest of the payload, but at present, the only space-qualified company that can manufacture the antenna is in Switzerland.”
These manufacturing capabilities will also be available to Defence as well as to other Australian space companies, Tata Nardini added.