Mini satellite tests Australia's communication tech capabilities

By Amy Sarcevic
Tuesday, 16 June, 2020

Mini satellite tests Australia's communication tech capabilities

The strength of Australia’s radio communication technology and defence space capabilities will soon be better known, thanks to the launching of a mini satellite into space this week.

The M2 Pathfinder, a CubeSat developed by UNSW Canberra and the RAAF, is around the size of a loaf of bread and will allow the technology to be tested in its intended environment — far more cost-effectively than a larger satellite.

Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the initiative will help guide future capability designs of larger satellites for the Australian Defence Force.

“The collaboration … allows small satellites to be used for evaluating technologies on more complex space systems, such as communications or Earth observation satellites,” she said.

“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 the initiative was also a reflection of Australia’s existing capability.

“[It showcases] the breadth of skills, talent and ingenuity in bringing Australian manufacturing into the future,” she said.

The M2 Pathfinder will undergo a series of communications tests over the coming months, aimed at improving future satellite design and serving as valuable experience for engineering and operational teams.

Multiple Australian suppliers and industry partners have also contributed, including the Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre operated by the Australian National University.

Image courtesy of Rocket Lab.

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