Sunday, 29 July 2018 22:03

Fleet opens first nanosatellite ground station, mission control centre

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Fleet's first nanosatellite ground station opens in South Australia Fleet's first nanosatellite ground station opens in South Australia

Australian start-up satellite technology company Fleet Space Technologies has opened its first nanosatellite ground station control centre in Adelaide.

The new ground station, located at Red Banks Reservoir, Pinkerton Plains, complements mission control consoles next to Fleet’s South Australian headquarters in Beverley in Adelaide’s west and will be used to track and transmit data from nanosatellites in space.

The project has been partly funded by the South Australian Government and matched by funding from Fleet itself.

The ground station will operate round the clock and will allow Fleet to track and receive data from nanosatellites, including its own which are set to launch this year, while in orbit.

Fleet says space start-ups across Australia and around the world will be able to monitor their own nanosatellites and payloads at a fraction of the cost of larger operators.

“We’re thrilled to be opening South Australia’s first ground station to service space start-ups and unleash endless possibilities to track nanosatellites in even the most remote areas of the world,” said Flavia Tata Nardini, chief executive of Fleet.

“The ground station will break barriers for space start-ups locally and abroad creating opportunities that were previously only available to large organisations. We’re democratising space and advancing global collaboration.

“We knew it was ambitious to build and operate a world-class ground station in less than six months. It’s a huge achievement for a small start-up to receive leasing rights, let alone build a fully functioning mission control centre within this short timeframe. We’re proud that we can start working on this; owning and operating a ground station in Australia is a key part of ensuring we can deliver world class service with our satellites for our customers.”

Tata Nardini  says the ground station launch cements Fleet’s commitment to driving quicker access to data to help transform billion-dollar industries, “from precision agriculture on isolated rural farms in Tasmania, maritime monitoring in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and food supply chain management in Asia”.

Opening of the new ground station follows the announcement of Fleet’s launches of the first two nanosatellites — Centauri I and II — aboard Indian Space Agency and SpaceX rockets.

According to Fleet, progress has been rapid, and this week the company received the Overseas Launch Certificate under the Australian Space Activities Act allowing its nanosatellites — Centauri I and II — to be deployed into orbit this year.

“While we’re all for enabling broader access to space, it has to be done in a regulated way. Getting these two certificates from the Australian government demonstrates how hard the team has worked to ensure we have all the correct approvals in place before launching,” Tata Nardini said.

She said the ground station has been made possible by the lease of land from SA Water and support from Speedcast.

The station and mission control centre has been built in collaboration with Italian satellite ground segment service provider, Leaf Space which engineered and supplied a turn key satellite dish integrated with monitoring and control systems critical to receive radio waves from nanosatellites orbiting Earth.

“The proliferation of nanosatellites in recent years has created enormous demand for new ground stations across the globe for tracking, uplink and downlink operations,” said Giovanni Pandolfi, co-founder and chief technical officer of Leaf Space.

“South Australia is emerging as a space hub with ambitious start-ups, incredible talent and innovative technologies. We’re pleased to extend our installation of ground stations to Australia and increase operational efficiency for local and international satellite operators.”

Fleet says the ground station will increase the speed and agility of its operations with instantaneous access to data, ultimately boosting efficiencies for customers.

Head of the Australian Space Agency, Dr Megan Clark, said, “This ground station is an example of some of the great space-related activities underway in Australia and I congratulate Fleet Space Technologies for achieving such an important milestone.”

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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