Fleet Space Technologies has unveiled what it says is the world's first entirely 3D-printed satellite it aims to put into orbit next year.
The Adelaide-based firm recently raised $37m from high-profile investors, including Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes' investment company, and says it will use the money to expand the scope of its space ambitions.
The company currently has 6 Centauri nanosatellites in orbit – each about the size of a shoebox – with a goal for a constellation of 140.
The new, larger Alpha models, which Fleet says will be ready for launch in 12 months, will sit alongside the Centauri satellites and be able to provide high-speed connectivity and unlimited data services globally. Fleet co-founder Flavia Tata Nardini said the company, based in Adelaide's west, aimed to become a leader in the global satellite sector.
"It is Fleet Space's vision that everyone, everywhere, has access to unlimited connectivity, no matter where they are on the globe – in cities, remote regions, on land or navigating the oceans," Ms Tata Nardini told The Advertiser.
"Alpha represents a major step forward and the first time a satellite has been created entirely through 3D printing.
"By bringing together the creation, deployment and service of space technology, this is a clear statement of our intent to become a global leader in space technology.
"It also allows us to drive down costs and truly democratise this technology, connecting more people, places and things to unlock the radical efficiencies we know that global connectivity enables."
Fleet says its ability to 3D print antennas for small satellites, which was a world first, underpinned the development of the Alpha satellite, which would include 64 antennas versus just 4 in the Centauri.
The company recently said it aimed to hire about 70 new staff.
Fleet's Centauri satellites are used to communicate with low-power devices on the earth's surface, allowing wide-scale monitoring at low cost, and in areas where mobile phone networks are not available.
Fleet said there was huge demand, with The International Data Corporation forecasting more than 14 billion connected devices in operation by 2025.
Sourced from: The Advertiser, Saturday 4 December 2021, p.23.