New satellite constellation to boost Australia’s national security capability amid rising tensions (Image Credit: SNN)
Australian based company LatConnect 60 has has announced a global space partnership to build and deploy a smart satellite constellation over Australian skies to help the Australian government and commercial clients monitor and protect their interests in the region.
The announcement comes amid rising global tensions, with the Australian Prime Minister last week announcing a $1.35 billion response to a major cyber-attack targeting Australia by a state based actor. With plans to launch in June 2021, the new low earth orbit smart satellite constellation will provide close to real time data on request to clients giving Australia a boost to its strategic observation capabilities.
LatConnect 60 Founder and CEO, Venkat Pillay said: “The reality is until now Australia has had to rely on overseas providers for access to critical earth observation data.”
“Covid-19, coupled with rising global tensions, has made governments and companies take a closer look at the technologies they need and who they can rely on to provide those technologies in a crisis. Australia is too reliant on overseas companies for observation data and that data is not exclusive or secure,” said Mr Pillay.
LatConnect 60 has also announced a new security partnership with ProximaX, who will use a combination of two-layer encryption, de-centralised storage and blockchain technology to encrypt and secure all data captured by LatConnect 60 satellites to ensure it is resilient to attack.
“We are excited to be working with ProximaX. Their sophisticated encryption and de-centralised data storage architecture is combined with blockchain technology to thwart cyberattacks, ensuring the data we collect will remain protected from the types of hostile attacks that the Australian Government is facing,” said Mr Pillay.
What the satellite constellation will do
LatConnect 60’s smart satellite constellation offers a valuable service differentiator in the geospatial market by collecting high resolution Earth Observation (EO) imagery products and RF signal intelligence at the same timestamp, and processing it on-orbit with machine learning capabilities to make sense of the data.
“Our competitors have launched expensive multi-purpose satellites not tailored to the Australian market. What sets our patent pending technology apart is that it is fit for purpose and as a result our services are more flexible, more reliable but also more affordable while providing the same quality, if not better, imaging,” said Mr Pillay.
An Australian company, LatConnect 60 has chosen to setup its headquarters in Perth, while it is also plugged into the growing South Australian space ecosystem and is a startup member of the SmartSat Cooperative Research Centre based in Adelaide.
“We have based our headquarters in Perth to take advantage of the space innovation hub which is coming to life thanks to the WA Government’s recent investment and leadership in developing these technologies which will provide the jobs of the future,” said Mr Pillay.
LatConnect 60 is collaborating with satellite partner York Space Systems and Perth’s Curtin University, which will develop local capability in WA. Professors Ba-Ngu Vo and Ba Tuong Vo, from the Intelligent Sensing and Perception (ISP) Group at Curtin University, have been selected as the main research partners with LatConnect 60: “The ISP Group is developing new algorithms to exploit rapid advances in AI, IoT and embedded systems, which are expected to underpin the signal processing and data analytics onboard the new satellites,” said Professor Ba-Ngu Vo.
“We are very pleased to collaborate with LatConnect 60 on this endeavor and we look forward to helping them to provide world class remote sensing capabilities to their customers in the region,” said Charles Beames, Executive Chairman of York Space Systems. “LatConnect 60 requires satellite constellations delivered on-orbit in months instead of years, and York is honoured to not only be selected to do this but also to deliver and improve upon their national security efforts.”
LatConnect 60 has ambitous plans to cement Australia’s position as a major player in the growing space economy, initially supplying its services to Australian clients before expanding across the region and the globe as it scales up its satellite constellation and product applications.
Founded by Venkat Pillay and Rueben Rajasingam, the leadership team at LatConnect 60 brings with it an impressive track record, having worked with the likes of NASA, the Canadian and European space programs, CSIRO and BHP Billiton.
The key industries set to benefit from access to the new RF Signal Intelligence and High Resolution Multispectral Imaging include government security and intelligence agencies; as well as mining, oil and gas; agriculture; and maritime. Potential examples of use are maritime surveillance, resource exploration, and crop yield and change detection in farming.