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ADF to gain breakthrough satellite voice tech

ADF personnel situated thousands of kilometres away from each other in remote locations will soon be able to send secure voice messages following a pioneering experiment.

Fleet Space Technologies – best known for its mining tech – made the breakthrough by updating the software on one of its existing LEO Centauri satellites.

The successful demonstration of “push to talk” (PTT) messages follows the SA-based business being awarded a AUD$6.4 million contract by Defence Space Command last year as part of the ASCEND2LEO program.

The project was supported by SmartSat CRC – a collaboration between universities and research organisations that partner with industry – and the UniSA-backed Safety from Space.


Fleet called the innovation a “major leap forward in tactical communications capabilities” and said its Centauri satellite is now the “smallest voice-capable satellite on Earth”.

“Custom waveforms are a critical part of enabling high-performing satellite capabilities,” said Dr. Mark Rice, founder of Safety From Space.

“We’re excited to continue working with partners to help build secure and resilient satellite-based solutions in support of the ambitious objectives of the Australian private and public sectors.”

The live demonstration was hosted by the Defence Science & Technology Group (DSTG) and abided by a “strict criterion” for one-way voice transmission, including voice quality, reliability, and link persistence across “thousands of kilometres in manifold operational environments”.


Space Connect previously reported that the ASCEND2LEO program seeks to identify how commercial space capabilities can support Australia’s national security objectives.

Professor Andy Koronios, chief executive officer of SmartSat, said last year, “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.

“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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