New satellite launch to strengthen air traffic control in Australia

Australia’s first batch of air traffic management satellites (ATMs) will soon be launched on a SpaceX rocket as part of a project to improve communications and monitoring of the country’s aviation activity.

The satellite was created in collaboration with Skykraft, an Australian space services company spun off from the University of New South Wales (UNSW), and Airservices Australia, which is responsible for managing the country’s skies.

Under this project, Skykraft will launch more than 200 ATM satellites into space over the next two years to monitor domestic and international flights.

The first satellite launch is scheduled for early January 2023 on a SpaceX flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

After reaching Earth orbit, the satellite will undergo a three-month testing process before being put into use by Airservices Australia.

How satellites improve flight safety and communications

Current practice allows aviation authorities to track planes in the following ways: ADS-Bis an embedded electronic system that automatically broadcasts the aircraft’s exact position over a digital data link.

However, ADS-B coverage has distance limitations as it relies on terrestrial infrastructure.

Currently, the maximum range at which ground stations can receive signals is approximately 250 nautical miles (463 kilometers).

Once the aircraft exceeds this range, its position cannot be accurately tracked.

On the other hand, with the establishment of the space station, ATM systemthe aircraft can be tracked throughout the flight, even when flying over the sea or in remote areas.

Skycraft CEO Michael Frater said in a statement obtained by AAP: “At the moment, there are holes in the Australian coverage.

“By putting it in space, we can cover a much larger area from satellites than we can from systems on the ground.

“For the first time, Airservices Australia will have full surveillance service coverage. They will know where every aircraft is in Australia.”

Epoch Times photo
Employees at the Fucino Space Center Piero Fanti in Ortucchio, Italy, December 5, 2022. (Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images)

Aside from position tracking, satellites can improve communication speeds between controllers and pilots via real-time voice and data transfer services.

This allows the aircraft to reduce turbulence in flight and take the most efficient route.

“So if the aircraft encounters turbulence while flying from Sydney to Los Angeles, the pilot can get clearance to change altitude more quickly,” said Frater.

Project details

January 2022, airservice australia announced a partnership with Skykraft to develop a space-based communications and surveillance ATM system.

The aviation authority said it will share its expertise in air navigation technical engineering and air traffic management to help design, develop and test Skycraft’s systems.

Later, in comments obtained by AAP, Frater said his company spent more than 12 months developing the satellite at an estimated cost of less than $200 million ($135 million).

The company plans to transmit a global constellation 210 satellites The first five (weighing 300 kilograms) set a record for the largest Australian-made space object.

At the same time, satellite components are manufactured locally in Australia.

In particular, thermal coating Came from Queanbeyan’s coating company during printing circuit boardsand chassis parts Produced in Newcastle and Wodonga respectively.

Skykraft plans to put the satellite into commercial operation and provide traffic management services to other countries from 2025.

“We are taking a giant leap into a whole new era in space, creating a global industry from our nation’s capital,” said Skycraft Chairman Mark Skidmore.

Alfred Bui

Alfred Bui is an Australian reporter based in Melbourne, focusing on local and business news. He is a former small business owner and holds his two master’s degrees in business and business law. Please contact [email protected]