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Fleet launches next-gen satellite to boost mining service

Fleet Space Technologies has launched a new “next-generation” satellite into its constellation to improve the capacity of its service that detects minerals underground.

The Centauri-6 was blasted off on Monday as part of SpaceX’s Bandwagon-1 mission, a new rideshare that delivered satellites into mid-inclination orbits rather than sun-synchronous orbits.

The SA-based business offers a diverse range of products, but its most notable is ExoSphere, which uses satellites to detect the location of minerals beneath the Earth’s surface within days.

Its success has led to the company being named Australia’s fastest-growing and boasting clients such as Rio Tinto, Barrick Gold, and Core Lithium.


On Monday, Fleet said Centauri-6 had been designed with multiple upgrades to optimise its “resilience and durability”.

“Centauri-6 has greater uplink capacity and redundancy, enabling more resilient data transfer from Fleet Space’s satellite-enabled seismic sensors on the ground,” said Fleet.

“The satellite has also been designed with an ion electric propulsion system powered by solar panels to provide thrust in the vacuum of space. Centauri-6’s design also leverages 3D-printed components – including the 3D-printed metal patch antenna Fleet Space pioneered on earlier Centauri satellites.”

Fleet co-founder Flavia Tata Nardini added Centauri-6 was a “portal into a future of efficient, mass-scale satellite manufacturing”.


“Humanity’s expanding satellite infrastructure is rapidly unlocking new capabilities that can help to address some of the most pressing challenges facing our planet,” she said.

“At current rates of mineral discoveries and production, our net-zero goals and clean energy future are unattainable in the coming decades.”

It comes after Space Connect reported last month how Fleet had updated the software on one of its older model Centauri satellites to enable “push to talk” (PTT) messages for the ADF.

The upgrade means personnel situated thousands of kilometres apart in remote locations would soon be able to send secure voice messages. It followed the SA-based business being awarded a AU$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”.

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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