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Fleet Space to Launch Constellation of World’s First Fully 3D Printed Satellites

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
December 5, 2021
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Internet of Things satellite (Credit: Fleet Space Technologies)
  • Fleet Space reveals growth strategy following $26.4m (USD) investment 
  • Fleet to unlock high speed connectivity for everything with unlimited data services anywhere
  • Alpha satellites will be the world’s first constellation of fully 3D printed satellites
  • The first Alpha satellites are planned to launch in 2022, with high speed global continuous connectivity coverage planned by 2026
  • Alpha will enable Fleet to deliver services on new frequency bands serving more markets and use cases than ever before
  • Tech to accelerate radical efficiencies unlocked by Internet of Things (IoT)
  • Bold new strategy is endorsement of and commitment to Australia’s space industry
  • Fleet to unlock high speed connectivity for everything, unlimited data services anywhere

SYDNEY, Australia (Fleet Space PR) — “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. Our recent Series B investment empowered us to realise this vision by embarking on a bold new strategy. This new chapter in our story is led by the development of a new constellation of satellites named Alpha, which will work in harmony with our existing Centauri constellation. 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, and to support Australia’s ambition to lead this critical field. 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.”

— Flavia Tata Nardini, CEO and Founder, Fleet Space Technologies 

Today, Fleet Space Technologies announced its future strategy, led by the development of a new constellation of 3D-printed small satellites named Alpha, with the first satellites ready for launch in 12 months. This will sit alongside the existing Centauri constellation. Leveraging experience and learnings from the successful operation of the company’s growing constellation of small satellites Fleet Space will be able to expand its coverage reach and provide down to sub-second latency, providing an extremely cost-effective means to unlock unprecedented connectivity more quickly and in more locations, however remote. 

The Alpha constellation represents a fundamental shift for Fleet Space. Empowered by a recent $26.4m (USD) Series B investment, the startup has expanded the scope of its dedicated research and development arm to create the Alpha small satellite. The creation of the world’s first entirely 3D printed satellite, integrates Fleet’s advanced beamforming technology and patented antennas. 

The existing Centauri constellation is among the world’s most advanced space communications systems. Like Alpha, Fleet Space’s latest Centauri 4 small satellite, developed in collaboration with Tyvak, has been integrated with Fleet Space’s breakthrough smallsat digital beamforming technology that uses an array of multiple 3D printed all-metal antennas along with cutting edge Digital Signal Processing. This beamforming technology provides a substantial increase in throughput of customer IoT data and can service a higher number of customer terminals at once. It does this by generating a high number of highly-directional low-interfering beams in point-to-point satellite communications. This achieves a high spectral efficiency which improves quality of service through enhanced frequency re-use, faster data rates and more link robustness. Integrating this digital beamforming into a Low Orbit Satellite, not much larger than a half a square meter, is a world first. 

Fleet has a clear track record in advanced manufacturing methods such as 3D printing. This includes a world-first in metal 3D-printing patch antennas for small satellites. This proves the company’s approach and the robustness of the technology for much wider use. Indeed, Alpha satellites will have up to 64 of these antennas on board versus only 4 in the Centauri 4. This represents a 16-fold increase in performance while being only four times heavier. 

Fleet Space will ensure the continuity of the Centauri constellation in collaboration with Tyvak International, and launched by the end of 2022. This will ensure service continuity and an increased level of service for all Fleet customers, creating a complimentary constellation that further increases its connectivity speed and reach.

“Our continuing collaboration with Fleet Space represents a landmark technical partnership in the development of connectivity IoT. We are proud to globally empower this rapidly growing company through the co-development and continuing improvement of the established Fleet’s Constellation.” 

Marco Villa, Tyvak International, a Terran Orbital Corporation 

The additional scope of Fleet Space Technologies will arrive at a key moment in the satellite communications industry. Built and deployed over the last 50 years, this market is expected to double in the next 7 years, driven by cheaper access to orbit and a combination of new technologies. Matched with predictions by The International Data Corporation that there will be more than 14 billion connected devices by 2025, the demand for global coverage of high speed, low latency connectivity will become unprecedented. 

The deployment of Fleet Space’s SmallSat Alpha constellation will service this crucial sector by providing limitless connectivity and will add data driven applications. Working alongside its existing SmallSat Centauri constellation, it will unlock new markets with continuous coverage, a high data rate of up to 520 kbps and tailored frequency bands servicing current and future generations of IoT devices. 

The pace and depth of Fleet Space’s advancements is a clear demonstration of Australia’s position as a global centre of excellence for space technology. Supported by the Australian federal government ambition’s to grow the size of the Australian space economy to $12 billion by 2030 and create an additional 20,000 jobs in the field, Australia already boasts launch facilities, commercial rocket launches and a burgeoning space-centric software industry, positioning the nation as a capable, strategic and globally-engaged leader in the field.

Alongside Fleet Space’s advanced smallsats, homegrown Australian technology is also supporting the wider space industry. Fleet Space is leading the Seven Sisters’ Australian space industry consortium in support of NASA’s Artemis program to land the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024 and create a sustainable human presence for later crewed Martian exploration. Commencing in 2023, the Seven Sisters missions are designed to find accessible water and other resources on the Moon and Mars. 

One response to “Fleet Space to Launch Constellation of World’s First Fully 3D Printed Satellites”

  1. publiusr says:

    Now to grow a whole rocket out of a vat under it, that rises into an autoclave-silo. The rocket is a self-eating autophage design, with it and later sat designs made to disappear in a puff of smoke at the end.

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