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Fleet Space demonstrates satellite-enabled push-to-talk
Tue, 12th Mar 2024

Fleet Space Technologies, supported by SmartSat and Safety from Space, has successfully demonstrated satellite-enabled Push-to-Talk (PTT) capabilities, a significant achievement for the ASCEND2LEO project funded by Defence Space Command. The demonstration showed that Fleet Space's Centauri satellites could be reprogrammed to deliver high-quality, fit-for-purpose voice capabilities while in orbit.

The successful execution involved a variant of the Beagle communications waveform, developed under former SmartSat-funded projects, implemented on the Centauri-4 satellite. "This milestone in PTT capabilities opens a path to more secure, reliable, instantaneous communications across vast distances using highly advanced microsatellite architectures," said a representative from SmartSat.

The demonstration for the Australian Defence Force Joint Capabilities Group established a proof of concept for the Regenerative Voice System architecture underlying the ASCEND2LEO program. This test validates the ability of highly adaptable microsatellite constellations to rapidly deliver purpose-built, high-quality SATCOM capabilities at scale to meet complex needs in diverse scenarios.

Peter Kerr, SmartSat’s Defence & National Security Coordinator, lauded this achievement. "Enabling an entirely new voice capability for a satellite that is already in orbit is a tremendous technical accomplishment. With this proof of concept, SmartSat is playing a critical role in helping the Australian industry develop SATCOM resiliency for Australian Defence and validate the Regenerative Voice System architecture, a powerful and ambitious approach undertaken by the ASCEND2LEO program," he said.

The demonstration took place during a live event hosted by the Defence Science & Technology Group (DSTG), allowing Fleet Space's PTT capabilities to meet stringent performance criteria for one-way voice transmission, including voice quality, reliability, and link persistence across thousands of kilometres in various operational environments. Fleet Space’s demonstration confirms its satellites' ability to support critical missions and aid in building a resilient space infrastructure for Australia and its global allies.

Matt Pearson, Co-Founder & Chief Exploration Officer at Fleet Space, expressed pride in the accomplishment. "By successfully delivering a software update to our Centauri satellite while in orbit, we are proud to be the developer and operator of the world's smallest known voice-enabled satellite, creating new innovation pathways to advance new capabilities for the global space industry and beyond," Pearson stated.

The Beagle waveform technology first proved its potential in SmartSat’s Resilient Emergency and Search and Rescue Communications project. The aim was to develop an enhanced emergency safety beacon using next-generation satellites, specifically in remote locations. Subsequently, a second project, LunaSAR, was focused on astronaut suit telemetry and lunar terrain vehicle telemetry in support of NASA's Artemis program. A variant of the Beagle waveform was delivered to Fleet Space for the ASCEND2LEO program following an AUD $6.4M contract signing with Defence Space Command to provide tactical voice and data transmission where connectivity is limited.

The ASCEND2LEO research partnership, led by SmartSat, aims to leverage Australia's competitive strengths to advance the national space and defence industry. SmartSat facilitated collaboration with research partners, including the University of South Australia, DSTG, and Safety from Space, each contributing to the project's success.