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Fleet Space inks contract with Defence Space Command

Fleet Space Technologies has agreed a $6.4 million contract with Defence Space Command for the use of its commercial low-Earth orbit satellites.

The contract will see the Adelaide company’s commercial Centauri satellites used to develop and demonstrate a low-Earth orbit satellite communications system.

The communications system will enable Fleet’s satellites to be used to support tactical communications and data relay in denied environments.

Dubbed ASCEND2LEO, the program has been developed to enable Defence to leverage commercial satellites to support their warfighting capabilities.


The program is a collaboration between the Defence Science and Technology Group, Fleet Space Technologies, the University of South Australia, Rice Satcom, and SmartSat CRC.

“We're excited to collaborate with Defence Space Command and our partners to deliver new capabilities from low-Earth orbit,” said Fleet Space co-founder Matt Pearson.

“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.

“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.”


Colonel Clifford White, director space services at Defence Space Command, explained that space was fundamental to achieving “the Defence mission”.

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

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

Currently, the satellites are used by the mining industry.

The ASCEND2LEO program seeks to identify how commercial space capabilities can be utilised to support Australia’s national security objectives.

“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,” Professor Any Koronios, chief executive officer of SmartSat, said.

“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’.

“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.”

Adam Thorn

Adam Thorn

Adam is a journalist who has worked for more than 40 prestigious media brands in the UK and Australia. Since 2005, his varied career has included stints as a reporter, copy editor, feature writer and editor for publications as diverse as Fleet Street newspaper The Sunday Times, fashion bible Jones, media and marketing website Mumbrella as well as lifestyle magazines such as GQ, Woman’s Weekly, Men’s Health and Loaded. He joined Momentum Media in early 2020 and currently writes for Australian Aviation and World of Aviation.

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