Fleet Space Technologies successfully launched their Centauri 3 smallsat on March 23, Centauri 3. The company’s fifth smallsat launched from New Zealand’s Launch Complex 1 at Mahia Peninsula aboard a Rocket Lab Electron launch vehicle “They Go Up So Fast.”
The 10 kg smallsat entered its pre-planned orbit, 550 km 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.
Centauri 3 and the other smallsats make possible Fleet Space’s service to energy companies, utilities and mines worldwide. An IoT communications payload aboard each satellite, designed by Fleet Space, will connect thousands of sensors monitoring critical infrastructure across the world with their owners’ and managers’ base stations in real time, 24 hours a day. The full constellation of 140 satellites could generate a lifetime revenue of $1.82 billion.
The payload includes a highly innovative, lightweight, beam-steering antenna, AI-driven computer server and satellite modem, all designed in-house by Fleet Space. This will transform the ability of Australian industry to manage and control in real time remote assets.
Fleet Space believes the service needs a constellation of 140 such satellites, of which about 50 will need replacement every year as their orbits decay.
To meet this demand, the company 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. This will help increase Fleet Space’s workforce from 31 to 128 scientists, engineers and assembly technicians. Fleet Space’s partners, the University of Adelaide, Hawker Richardson, Lintek, and Redarc Electronics, will also increase their testing and manufacturing capabilities thanks to this grant.
“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,” said Fleet Space CEO and Co-Founder, Ms. Flavia Tata Nardini. “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.” She noted that these later satellites will have much greater signal throughput and their greater numbers will deliver a continuous service to customers worldwide.
“For the first time, we’ll be able to 3D print our innovative beam-steering antenna here in Australia,” she continued. “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, adding depth and strength to the entire sector, Nardini noted.