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Fleet Space's Centauri Satellite Achieves Groundbreaking Voice Capability for Australian Defence
Fleet Space is pushing the boundaries of lunar exploration. In 2026, a variant of its ExoSphere solution, SPIDER, will deploy on the Moon via Firefly Aerospace's Blue Ghost lander under NASA's Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program. SPIDER aims to provide geological insights into the lunar surface and search for water ice, marking it as the first Australian seismic technology on the Moon. Fleet Space Technologies file illustration.
Fleet Space's Centauri Satellite Achieves Groundbreaking Voice Capability for Australian Defence
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Mar 19, 2024

Fleet Space Technologies, an Australian leader in space exploration, recently unveiled the successful activation of Push-to-Talk (PTT) voice capabilities for the Australian Defence Force's Joint Capabilities Group, as part of the ASCEND2LEO initiative. This accomplishment marks a significant advancement in tactical communications, placing Fleet Space at the forefront of satellite communication innovation, with one of the only demonstrations of PTT via Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.

Matt Pearson, Co-Founder and Chief Exploration Officer at Fleet Space, stated, "Our demonstration for the ASCEND2LEO program exemplifies our dedication to pioneering innovative solutions for the complex requirements of the Australian Defence Force. By implementing a software update on our Centauri satellite while in orbit, we have established the world's smallest voice-enabled satellite, fostering innovation in the global space industry and beyond."

The ASCEND2LEO program is aimed at developing a LEO satellite communications system using Fleet Space's Centauri satellites to provide tactical voice and data transmission capabilities where connectivity is usually constrained. Featuring the world's first 3D printed all-metal patch antennas and sophisticated Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), this demonstration proved the ability of Centauri satellites to offer bespoke voice communication solutions from orbit. This follows a AUD$6.4 million contract from the Defence Space Command, highlighting a future of secure and instant communication over great distances through advanced microsatellite technology.

The live demonstration, conducted by the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), showcased Fleet Space's PTT capabilities meeting strict criteria for voice transmission quality, reliability, and link persistence over thousands of kilometers, in various operational settings.

The SmartSat CRC and Safety from Space enhanced Fleet Space's capabilities by implementing a specifically designed communications waveform on the Centauri 4 satellite for this purpose. These efforts underscore Fleet Space's contribution to mission-critical operations and the development of a resilient space infrastructure for Australia and its global partners.

Peter Kerr, Defence and National Security Coordinator at SmartSat CRC, remarked on the significant technical achievement of enabling new voice capabilities for an orbiting satellite, "This proof of concept underlines SmartSat's crucial role in advancing Australian SATCOM resilience for Defence and validating the Regenerative Voice System architecture, a bold and innovative effort by the ASCEND2LEO program."

The introduction of PTT capabilities by Fleet Space signifies a pivotal development for Australia's space sector, with the Centauri satellite now recognized as the smallest voice-capable satellite globally. This scalable solution is set to meet future tactical and strategic demands of defence and the wider space industry.

The reprogrammable nature of Fleet Space's Centauri satellite, achieved through a software update, exemplifies a successful Regenerative Voice System architecture proof of concept for the ASCEND2LEO program. This achievement demonstrates the potential of adaptable microsatellite constellations to quickly provide customized, high-quality SATCOM solutions across various scenarios.

Dr. Mark Rice, Founder of Safety From Space, highlighted the importance of custom waveforms in enhancing satellite performance, "We look forward to further collaborations to develop secure, resilient satellite-based solutions that support the ambitious goals of the Australian sector."

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