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NewSpace companies agree to launch first payload from South Australia

Space

Electronic warfare company DEWC Systems will use a new Southern Launch facility to test its technology for the Royal Australian Air Force.

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Announced at the 9th Australian Space Forum today in Adelaide, South Australia, the launch will be a first step in proving DEWC Systems’ MOESS satellite constellation as well as the first launch for Southern Launch.

The two South Australian companies have collaborated to develop the program and will test the payload at the newly established Koonibba Test Range, in the west of South Australia 40km north of the town of Ceduna.

DEWC Systems CEO Ian Spencer said they will launch a cigar-sized capsule of miniaturised sensors, antennas and communications equipment on a T-Minus Engineering Dart rocket.

He said the timing of the launch was dependent on approvals from the Australian Space Agency, which officially opened its new headquarters in Adelaide this morning.

“We have been working on small, electronic warfare systems for deployment on cube satellites,” said Spencer.

“This [launch] is a breakthrough and the activity we are doing with Southern Launch is a major step toward proving our capability to develop these miniaturised sensors.”

Spencer said the sensors had been designed to sit quietly in space to listen to and locate radar.

“With a large border like Australia has, and a relatively small number of assets to cover that, if we have space coverage we will be able to see radars of ships, and aircraft that are coming in or weapons systems that are deployed against us,” he said.

The DEWC Space Payload 1 will travel up to 100 km in altitude before being ejected from the launch container and descending to Earth at speeds that could reach Mach5.

During its descent the payload will demonstrate DEWC Systems’ ability to detect, identify and locate radar emissions through various altitudes and environments using miniaturised sensors.

Spencer said they would prove the accuracy of the sensor by mapping the already known radar wave patterns of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology from the DEWC ground station.

The project is part of the Royal Australian Air Force’s Plan Jericho to develop a radio frequency receiver prototype payload to explore the utility of affordable, rapid launch capabilities for defence situational awareness.

Southern Launch CEO Lloyd Damp said the South Australian companies had been working together for nearly a year to develop the plan to safely launch and retrieve the test payload.

Developed in conjunction with the Koonibba Community Aboriginal Corporation, the Koonibba Test Range extends for 145 kilometres from the township of Koonibba and covers an area of 10,000 uninhabited square kilometres.

“The launch of the DEWC Systems payload at the Koonibba Test Range, supported by the First Nations people at Koonibba, marks the start of Australia entering the NewSpace race and a future where all Australians can truly reach for the stars,” said Damp.

Southern Launch is also developing a launch site at Whaler’s Way on the Eyre Peninsula of South Australia that will allow micro and small-lift rocket manufacturers to launch satellites into polar orbits.

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story.

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