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Update: Australia demonstrates satellite-enabled push-to-talk capabilities

A computer-generated image (CGI) showing how, under the ASCEND2LEO programme, Fleet Space's Centauri satellites are being leveraged to develop a low Earth orbit satcom system that can connect defence assets and personnel. (Fleet Space Technologies)

South Australia-based Fleet Space Technologies has demonstrated push-to-talk (PTT) capabilities using a low Earth orbit (LEO) satellite as part of an Australian military project on satellite communications (satcom).

Fleet Space implemented a “software update” to its Centauri 4 satellite, currently in LEO, that enabled the satellite to deliver tactical PTT communication capabilities for the Australian Defence Force's (ADF's) Joint Capabilities Group (JCG), the company said in a media release on 12 March.

“Built with the world's first 3D-printed all-metal patch antennas and advanced field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs), this demonstration showed that Centauri satellites can be reprogrammed to deliver high-quality, fit-for-purpose voice capabilities while in orbit,” Fleet Space added. Fleet Space has five Centauri satellites in orbit, as part of a satellite constellation comprising seven satellites.

The demonstration has been conducted as part of Defence Space Command's (DSpC's) ASCEND2LEO programme, which aims to develop a LEO satcom system leveraging Fleet Space's Centauri satellites to deliver tactical voice and data transmission where connectivity is limited. The Australian Department of Defence's (DoD's) Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) has been leading research and development (R&D) under the programme. DSTG is collaborating with Fleet Space, the government-funded SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), the University of South Australia, and Safety from Space to deliver the project to the DSpC.

Fleet Space said that, during the demonstration, it applied a variant of a communications waveform, named ‘Beagle', that had been developed under previous SmartSat-funded projects on the Centauri 4 satellite to enable PTT.

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