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Digital Battlespace

Australia to develop new satellite RF payload

10th February 2021 - 01:55 GMT | by Tim Fish in Auckland

Australia has issued an RfP seeking vendors who can help develop radio frequency sensor payloads for a constellation of future military satellites.

Australia will fund research into the development of a new radio frequency capability for small satellites.

The Department of Defence released an RfP on 4 February looking to establish an Advanced Radio Frequency Payload Research Network (ARFP-RN) to develop a sensor payload that can be integrated with small satellite bus technology.

Australia wants to establish a constellation of small satellites (up to 200kg) that will operate at medium to fine resolution and with a wide-swath synthetic aperture radar. The constellation will provide a space-based surveillance layer to its broad-area maritime surveillance ISR architecture.

The payload will be first demonstrated in space under the Resilient Multi-Mission Space STaR Shot programme. STaR Shot is a defence project that utilises commercial technology to launch a series of low Earth orbit smart satellites for use by the Australian Defence Force in partnership with Five Eyes countries.

Funding will be provided from the Next-Generation Technologies Fund. The RfP wants industrial and academic partners to work with the department’s DST Group, which will lead the research network, to help develop the proposed SAR payload.

According to the RfP, the ARFP-RN programme will progress in two phases. The first will develop the concept and technologies and identify suitable partners over four months from April-July.

A down-select will occur in August-September, before beginning the second phase from October 2021 to September 2023. Funds will take forward the design, build and testing of the proposed payload.

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