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Australia taps Airbus for STaR Shot satellite program

Airbus Arrow satellite bus
Photo: Airbus

The Australian defense research agency has selected Airbus Defence and Space as the strategic partner for its Resilient Multi-mission Space STaR Shot program that aims to develop future space capabilities for the Australian defense force.

The objective of the STaR Shot is to design, manufacture, launch and operate at least four exemplar small satellite (up to 200 kg) missions over a 10-year program.

Announcing the decision on July 20, chief Defence Science and Technology Group scientist professor Tanya Monro said that as an experienced satellite developer and integrator, Airbus will work with defense to deliver the space research program to ensure Australian soldiers have assured access to satellite services.

Planning has already begun for two experimental satellite missions and the defense ministry has purchased two Airbus Arrow 150 satellite buses valued at over A$20 million. These buses will be outfitted with payloads and technologies developed by Australian industry and academia.

“The Arrow satellites provide some of the earliest possible opportunities to take Australian-developed defense payloads into space,” she said.

“By partnering with Airbus, we will fast-track the development of critical satellite technologies for the ADF, and ensure that our war fighters have ongoing access to resilient and trusted communication, intelligence and surveillance services,” professor Monro said.

Airbus was selected as the preferred strategic partner by a panel of experts from Defence and the Australian Space Agency. It will be supported by three Australian industry partners: Inovor Technologies, Shoal Group and Deloitte, as well as academic partners and a range of Australian small-to-medium enterprises.

“This is a true collaboration between government, industry and academia that will help position our growing Australian space sector to deliver future sovereign space technologies and operational capabilities,” professor Monro said.

In total, the Airbus partnership represents an investment of more than A$40 million in satellite technologies.

“Self-reliance in space technologies is critical if we are to ensure the defense and security of the country,” professor Monro said.