Australian miniature satellite lift off

An Australian-made miniature satellite has been launched into space to test radio communications technologies to help shape future space capabilities.

The M2 Pathfinder, developed by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra in partnership with the Royal Australian Air Force, is a significant next step in developing Defence space systems.

The M2 Pathfinder, a cubesat the size of a loaf of bread, was launched aboard a Rocket Lab rocket (pictured) from New Zealand’s Māhia Peninsula on June 13.

UNSW staff are now successfully communicating with the satellite.

UNSW Canberra Space Director Professor Russell Boyce said M2 Pathfinder would test home grown communications architecture and other satellite technologies, which will assist in informing the future space capabilities of Australia.

Boyce said: “The know-how and expertise that has gone into the project cements the leadership position of UNSW Canberra Space in developing Australian intelligent space capabilities and boosting the national high tech skills pipeline.”

Boyce said cubesats would in future assist with resource management, and secure communications and data collection during extreme weather events.

“Australia has a role to play in solving these problems, both for our own economic security and as responsible global citizens. UNSW Canberra Space looks forward to leading the way, particularly in equipping Australian satellites with artificial intelligence to better meet user needs for rapid access to information.”

Defence minister Linda Reynolds said the collaboration between UNSW Canberra and the RAAF allows small satellites to be used for evaluating technologies on more complex space systems, such as communications or earth observation satellites.

“Through this collaboration, it has enabled UNSW Canberra to develop a number of space courses and programs to benefit Defence personnel.”

Picture: Rocket Lab

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