An Australian-made miniature satellite has been launched into space to test radio communications technologies to help shape future space capabilities in Australia.
The M2 Pathfinder, developed by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra in partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force, is a significant next step in developing Defence space systems.
Small satellites such as M2 Pathfinder, also known as CubeSats and around the size of a loaf of bread, allow high-tech capabilities to be tested in space at a lower cost than larger satellites.
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the satellite will help inform future capability designs for the Australian Defence Force.
“The collaboration between UNSW Canberra and Air Force allows small satellites to be used for evaluating technologies on more complex space systems, such as communications or earth observation satellites,” Minister Reynolds said.
“Through this collaboration, it has enabled UNSW Canberra to develop a number of space courses and programs to benefit Defence personnel.
“The experience gained in the development and operation of these spacecraft also offers educational benefits for Defence personnel studying space programs at UNSW Canberra. This further enhances the future Defence space workforce.”
Minister for Defence Industry, Melissa Price said multiple Australian suppliers and industry partners have contributed, including the Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre, operated by the Australian National University.
“The Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre is an example of the world-class space capabilities on offer by Australian industry and academia,” Minister Price said.
“UNSW has partnered with many Australian companies from across eastern Australia showcasing the breadth of skills, talent and ingenuity in bringing Australian manufacturing into the future.”
Staff at UNSW Canberra will conduct a series of communications tests with the M2 Pathfinder satellite over the coming months. Results of these tests will improve the design of future satellites, and will provide valuable experience to the engineering and flight operations teams.