Fleet Space to launch 3D-printed satellite

The first 3D-printed Alpha satellites are on track to launch in 2022.
The first 3D-printed Alpha satellites are on track to launch in 2022.

The world's first fully 3D-printed satellites will be made in Australia, according to Fleet Space Technologies.

The Adelaide-based space start-up's growth strategy released on Friday included the new 3D-printed "Alpha" that it plans to launch next year and an update for its "Centauri" nanosatellites.

A commercial space race across the Asia-Pacific is launching small satellites from Japan to New Zealand to serve the Internet of Things (IoT) that is made up of billions of devices in homes and businesses.

"Alpha represents a major step forward and the first time a satellite has been created entirely through 3D-printing," chief executive and co-founder Flavia Tata Nardini said.

New techniques for sending wireless signals, known as beamforming, and patented antennas, are expected to unlock high speed connectivity for everything with unlimited data services anywhere, the company said.

The first Alpha satellites are on track to launch in 2022, with connectivity planned by 2026.

"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," Ms Tata Nardini said.

She said their existing Centauri 4 satellite, developed with US aerospace company Tyvak, is among the world's most advanced space communications systems and will be launched by the end of 2022.

The Alpha is bankrolled by new investment announced last month, including from superannuation fund Hostplus, the South Australian Venture Capital Fund (SAVC) and US venture capital firms In-Q-Tel and Alumni Ventures.

The world's satellite communications industry is expected to double in the next seven years, driven by cheaper access to orbit, new technologies and more than 14 billion connected devices by 2025.

The Alpha will be 3D printed at Fleet's manufacturing facility in Adelaide, South Australia.

Fleet Space has six satellites in orbit as it works towards building a constellation of 140.

Australian Associated Press