Skykraft’s 5 Australia-manufactured satellites ready for US launch

The Skykraft team in the Canberra manufacturing facility with Block III satellites before shipping to the US. Image credit: Skykraft

Australian satellite manufacturer Skykraft announced the successful completion of its flight readiness study for Skykraft’s Block III satellites, which are now being shipped to the US in preparation for launch on the next SpaceX Transporter mission.

The Block III satellites are the second group of satellites to be launched as part of Skykraft’s proof-of-concept efforts for a constellation of more than 200 satellites to offer space-based air traffic management (ATM), the company said in a news release. 

This constellation will offer communications services that will enhance communication between air traffic controllers and pilots as well as surveillance services to track planes in flight.

Prior to being transported to the US, testing of the 300kg Block III payload stack, which consists of five satellites, was successfully completed in Australia. 

The company said all launch payloads must undergo this testing to confirm that they can resist the intense vibrations of launch and withstand the shock of separation from the launch vehicle.

“The successful completion of the flight readiness review for Block III is a testament to the capabilities of the engineering team here at Skykraft, I could not be prouder of what we have achieved and am looking forward to getting another launch under our belt,” Skykraft’s Chief Engineer Dr Douglas Griffin said. 

To accompany the payload and finish integration on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle, Skykraft will send a team to the US. 

After the launch of Block III, Skykraft will have successfully launched a total of 600 kg of Australian-made space objects into orbit, tripling what had been accomplished prior to 2023 and demonstrating the development of the Australian space industry.

Dr Michael Frater, CEO of Skykraft, stated that Block III builds on the accomplishments of the Block II satellites launched in January 2023.

“For Skykraft to be able to build and launch this second payload of satellites in just six months is a step-change in Australia’s space industry capability, and is an essential requirement as we ramp to operating and sustaining large-scale commercial satellite constellations,” the CEO noted.

Skykraft’s satellite manufacturing facility in Canberra serves as the focal point for the design, construction, and operation of over 200 satellites that will comprise the constellation offering space-based ATM services, which will go live in 2025. 

The company further revealed that the constellation will be kept up with a regular five-year satellite replenishment cycle, providing a long-term capacity for space manufacturing in the nation’s capital that will create 40 to 50 satellites yearly.