Australia's space comms universe is expanding

EM Solutions Pty Ltd

By Jonathan Nally
Friday, 06 December, 2019

Australia's space comms universe is expanding

Recent contracts and agreements for space communications R&D, signed between firms and the government, show the Australian space tech field is taking off.

The Australian space communications research, development and manufacturing market shows every sign of expanding, following the establishment of the Australian Space Agency.

In one of several related developments, the Agency has signed a Statement of Strategic Intent and Cooperation with Brisbane-based EM Solutions Pty Ltd, which develops high-speed telecommunications for international supply chains.

The Statement is in accordance with areas of strategic growth outlined in the official Australian Civil Space Strategy.

EM Solutions will use its experience in delivering RF and SATCOM systems into the emerging Australian space industry.

Dr Megan Clark, Head of the Australian Space Agency, said the agreement is a demonstration of the importance of aligning business activities with the nation’s National Civil Space Priority Areas, in order to grow the industry.

“EM Solutions is building on its experience in land and marine satellite terminals to expand its capabilities in space communications, Dr Clark said.

“Australia can play a lead role in emerging technologies that will enable tracking and communicating across these applications in both traditional geostationary satellites and new space satellites in low and medium Earth orbits.”

“I am delighted that our work in space communications is recognised by signing this Joint Statement of Strategic Intent and Cooperation with the Australian Space Agency,” said Dr Rowan Gilmore, CEO of EM Solutions.

“For more than 20 years, EM Solutions has developed fully integrated systems incorporating its own technology to develop products and subsystems used in the space communications value chain. This includes on-the-move ground terminals for satellite communications, and receivers and transmitters now finding use in next-generation satellite systems.”

EM Solutions will expand its Brisbane facility with the construction of a new clean room to enable in-house assembly of electronics suitable for space applications. The company is a partner in the SmartSat CRC, a consortium of industry and research organisations that aims to enhance space communications and develop test and certification procedures for space communications.

In August 2019, the company was awarded a $6.5 million contract by global prime contractor Thales for the supply of satellite radio systems to support a major connectivity project.

EM Solutions’ Cobra M2 Maritime Satcom Terminal has been tested and certified to work at Ka-Band with the Wideband Global SATCOM system (WGS). The testing stages of the certification process were done by the Australian Certification Authority within the Satcom Systems Program Office.

The company’s Cobra X/Ka tri-band Maritime Satellite Terminal is operational on several different classes of Australian and overseas naval vessels.

The Agency has also signed a Statement of Strategic Intent and Cooperation with space and defence conglomerate Thales, which is investing in the Australian space and defence sectors and delivering satellite-based systems.

“Thales has been a long-term investor in Australia’s advanced technology sector, through comprehensive technology transfer and close collaboration with research agencies and specialised Australian SMEs,” said Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins.

The Agency also signed a similar Statement with Canberra-based EOS Space Systems, which designs, manufactures, delivers and operates technology for Space Situational Awareness.

Defence contract

In related news, the Australian Department of Defence has signed a $2.5 million contract with South Australian space technology company Inovor Technologies.

The contract will see the company deliver a satellite bus that will be used to house equipment in orbit for the Buccaneer Main Mission.

The Buccaneer program aims to improve our understanding of Earth’s outer atmosphere, especially the ionosphere, which is of key importance for the operation of Australia’s world-leading Jindalee Operational Radar Network.

“Small, low-cost satellites like Buccaneer provide a unique opportunity to support the development of an Australian Space Capability for Defence and to rejuvenate Australian space research,” said the Minister for Defence Industry, Melissa Price.

Pictured: Artist’s impression of the Buccaneer satellite. © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence.

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