SA-based Southern Launch recently announced that it has selected the T-Minus Engineering DART rocket to launch DEWC Systems’ prototype payload on a parabolic trajectory into space at the Koonibba Rocket Test Range later this year.
This test launch and descent will only last 30 minutes. Yet DEWC’s payload, called the DEWC-SP1, will conduct an important sensing mission as it descends, paving the way for future developments towards a sovereign Australian space-based electronic warfare capability.
This is being pursued under DEWC’s Miniaturised Orbital Electronic Warfare Sensor System (MOESS) project, backed by Plan Jericho.
“Plan Jericho are interested in potential future affordable launch systems that could be used by the Australian Defence Organisation to perform a number of Electronic Warfare missions,” Ian Spencer, CEO DEWC Systems, said to ADM. “This project will demonstrate small inexpensive sensors that can be rapidly deployed at high speed.
“In future it is anticipated that a series of such sensor suites could be rapidly deployed to quantify and qualify radar performance, create complex congested RF environments and carry Defence related payloads at hypersonic speeds.”
The prototype payload will test the company’s ability to optimise software and miniaturise hardware for the complex EW mission profile.
“The payload needs to reach an altitude of 100km in order to pass through the main beam of the selected target radars,” Spencer said. “These beams will be measured and the information relayed to the DEWC Ground station via a downlink for further processing and for live transmission via secure network to the RAAF.
“Upon landing the payload will be retrieved to gather locally stored data that could not be transmitted during the flight due to bandwidth limitations. For the purposes of the experiment, the collected data will be compared against the known data set for these radars to find correlation and to deduce the location of these emitters.”
The location of the experiment is also significant. The Koonibba Rocket Test Range extends 145 kilometres from the Indigenous community of Koonibba. Once operational, it will become the largest privately operated rocket test range on the planet.
According to Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp, the range will provide valuable new employment opportunities for the local community.
“Right from the inception of the project, the Koonibba Test Range has been developed alongside the indigenous communities within the area,” Damp said to ADM. “This is part of Southern Launch’s focus on putting safety to people and the environment at the forefront of space launch activities.
“Southern Launch is employing staff from within the area to operate the road blocks, assist in the setup of the launch site, provide transportation for staff, as well as be a critical component of the team sent out to recover the payload.
“Southern Launch will continue to work with the local communities to build an enduring source of new employment in the area, upskill community members to have more involvement in future space launch events, as well as maximise safety to people and the land.”