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A Skykraft SmallSat, one of a constellation of 210. (Photo: Skykraft)

Skykraft Collaborates with Fiji’s Airports to Grow Island Connectivity

Skykraft — the Australian space services company — has officially commenced a new collaboration with Fiji Airports, as part of Skykraft’s commercial Air Traffic Management (ATM) space constellation development, having made the announcement last week.

Skykraft Chairman, Air Vice Marshall (retired) Mark Skidmore, along with Fiji Airports General Manager Air Traffic Management & Operations, Amit Singh, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together as Skykraft demonstrates its Proof of Concept activities. In a statement, Singh said: “This MoU will allow Fiji Airports to explore opportunities to understand space-based Air Traffic Management and further develop our working relationship with Skykraft.”

Launching its first satellites in October this year, the Canberra, Australia-based company will demonstrate the applications of space-based surveillance and communications in commercial aviation, with Fiji Airports playing a significant part in verifying and validating its ATM system. The system — designed to provide increased safety and international air travel efficiency — will enable continuous ATM coverage for aircraft in all altitudes and locations.

In a recent statement, Skidmore said, “Skykraft’s space-based solution allows real-time communications between air traffic controllers and pilots, allowing for the reduction in separation between aircraft over oceanic airspace, enhancing efficiency and delivering environmental benefits. Our satellite constellation will be a world-first, proudly out of Australia.”

SpaceX’s Affordable Space Access

The Australian company — which specializes in the design, manufacture and operation of so-called ‘SmallSats’ — is capitalizing on the reduced costs of space access, citing SpaceX as a key driver in that cost reduction. As such, Skykraft will be launching with SpaceX after signing a contract in 2021.

Speaking of its launch agreement with SpaceX, Skidmore said: “Skykraft is very pleased to ride with SpaceX, the most reliable and effective launch provider in the world, to deploy our Air Traffic Management constellation. We also congratulate the SpaceX team on their transformative approach to small satellite launch and the rapid cadence of their rideshare opportunities.”

Aiming to commence commercial operations in 2024, Skykraft’s ATM service will utilize 210 satellites as part of its space constellation. The first satellite alone will break Australian records, weighing 300kg, becoming the largest Australian manufactured object in space. The satellite will carry multiple early-phase ATM SmallSats, while simultaneously exceeding the sum of all Australian space objects launched to date.

The Company’s Rapid Development

SkyKraft has made rapid development, opening a new manufacturing facility in Australia’s capital city of Canberra. Based at the UNSW Canberra City campus, the facility opened on March 21, 2022.

Creating potential for new career opportunities and Australian space-sector growth, Skykraft has set ambitious targets for satellite manufacturing. Aiming for five new satellites by June 2022, production will increase to 12 for the second half of 2022, and jump to 45 and 120 satellites for the first and second halves of 2023, respectively.

Canberra, Australia has a long space heritage, including hosting the Honeysuckle Creek station that received the moon landing footage and NASA Deep Space Communication Complex.

Author

  • Mike’s love affair with flight and mechanical objects in the sky began at an early age, fascinated by space documentaries and forever inspired by his first experiences with Flight Simulator ’95. He currently works as a UAV flight instructor and is training to receive his Private Pilot Licence with the goal of working in manned flight instruction. An avid reader of all things aviation and manned space flight, Mike stays close to developments in aerospace while reminiscing and sharing the rich history of flight with others. He loves writing, engineering and science.

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