LatConnect 60, SSTL in UK–Australia Space Bridge partnership

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Smart satellite provider LatConnect 60 and Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) have partnered under the UK–Australia ‘Space Bridge’, a program launched earlier this year by the Australian Space Agency and UK Space Agency to boost investment and knowledge across both countries’ space sectors.

Under the partnership, Perth-based LatConnect 60 will provide high-resolution optical data from the SSTL S1-4 Earth observation satellite, bolstering the firm’s satellite imagery and data analytics capability in Australia. LatConnect 60 will now control its first operational asset and move into a growth phase ahead of the launch of its own smart satellite constellation in 2022.

SSTL, a subsidiary of Airbus, has launched over 70 satellites for 22 countries over the last three decades. Its participation in the Space Bridge program, which was launched in February 2021, demonstrates the growing influence of Australian companies and paves the way for further collaboration that will create more jobs and opportunities in the space sector.

Through the new satellite, LatConnect 60 will generate high-resolution panchromatic and multispectral optical data, which its team in Western Australia will process to provide analytics-ready data products and insights. Clients from a range of sectors will benefit from the accurate, real-time datasets, which will have an immediate, practical impact on their operations.

Venkat Pillay, CEO of LatConnect 60, said the partnership will strengthen Australia’s national satellite capability. Pillay forecast that the satellite service will boost Australia’s strategic observation capabilities.

“Utilising satellite capacity exclusively in Australia, LatConnect 60 will be able to fill key data gaps for customers, while developing local capability which will create jobs and help grow the rapidly emerging Australian space sector,” said Pillay.

Phil Brownnett, Managing Director of SSTL, said the contract for SSTL S1-4 data with LatConnect 60 will further the UK’s ties with the Australian space industry and bring SSTL’s sub-metric Earth observation data to new markets. Arfan Chaudhry, Head of International Policy at the UK Space Agency, added that the partnership between SSTL and LatConnect 60 will harness the UK’s Earth observation capabilities, which will help monitor and tackle climate change, respond to natural disasters and manage natural resources.

“Our pioneering Space Bridge is already unlocking improved access to trade and investment, helping our innovative space sector collaborate more effectively than ever,” said Chaudhry.

Karl Rodrigues, Acting General Manager at the Australian Space Agency (ASA), said the partnership is an important development in the UK–Australia Space Bridge.

“Australian businesses and researchers have even more opportunities to showcase their capabilities to the world. It is an important step in helping to grow Australia’s space industry through international partnerships,” said Rodrigues.

Founded by Venkat Pillay and Rueben Rajasingam, the leadership team at LatConnect 60 has worked with NASA, the Canadian and European space programs, CSIRO and BHP Billiton. While initially supplying its services to Australian clients, the company plans to expand across the region and globe as it scales up its satellite constellation and product applications.

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