SmartSat is integrating the capabilities from the priority areas set in SmartSat’s Technology Roadmap across three primary research program areas as below.

In a world with insatiable thirst for Digital connectivity and the explosion of machine-to-machine communications, the need for reliable, high speed secure communications is critical to the economic competitiveness of Australia. This theme may produce new technologies, signal processing algorithms and communications architectures to ensure that Australia meets its needs for universal digital connectivity and help create new commercial opportunities. See projects in Advanced Communication, Connectivity & IoT Technologies projects below:
Topics include:
  • Laser communication
  • Next Generation ground stations & terminals
  • Mobile optical antennas
  • Quantum cryptography
  • Adaptive communication networks
  • Spectrum sensing & Cognitive radio
  • Next Generation IoT architectures
  • Ad-hoc connectivity
  • Satellite & terrestrial network integration

On-Board Processing for Advanced Tactical Satellite Communications (OBP for ATC) – Phase 1

Advanced Communication, Connectivity & IoT Technologies

The project seeks to develop technology for advanced tactical satellite communications as a long-term option to augment or replace current High Mobility satellite communications services provided by Ultra High Frequency (UHF) SATCOM.

The project will develop and implement an advanced waveform, operating in a higher frequency band, that meets current user needs and creates a technology growth path to address capacity and resilience concerns that cannot be overcome with current technology.

The project will build Australian expertise and potentially lead to enhanced AIC for future phases of JP9102. It proposes the use of Software Defined Radio (SDR) technology and On-Board Processing (OBP) of the communications waveform in space. So called “regenerative payloads” offer significant performance benefits compared to “bent-pipe” payloads at a cost of increased complexity.

This phase of the project will define the requirements and performance specifications for a conceptual tactical network and implement an initial demonstration system on non-flight qualified software defined radios. This aims to accelerate the development of a follow-on project or phase aimed at developing a prototype capable of integration with an experimental satellite.

The target technology demonstration and experimentation program for this research is the Defence STaR Shot for Resilient Multi-mission Space. The demonstration will showcase a game-changing approach to the provision of resilient satellite communications to the tactical warfighter.


Project Leader:
Luis Lorenzin, DST Group


Modem Development for Optical and Hybrid RF/Optical Communications

Advanced Communication, Connectivity & IoT Technologies

SmartSat is expected to undertake multiple projects in the area of optical and hybrid RF/optical communication links. This project will develop a modem for these links which can be utilised to demonstrate high-speed communications and gather channel measurements and other research data. The proposed activities include the development of a software implementation suitable for commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software defined radios and a hardware/firmware implementation suited for high data rates, e.g., 1Gbps.


Project Leader:
Professor Gottfried Lechner, University of South Australia


MIMO and Cooperative Communications for New Space – Phase 1: Feasibility Study

Advanced Communication, Connectivity & IoT Technologies

Smart small satellite constellations in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) enable a whole new class of opportunities for Defence in the “New Space” paradigm. Underpinned byDSTs Resilient Multi-Mission Space STaR Shot, these opportunities are envisioned to be transitioned into fit-for-purpose operational capabilities across surveillance, space situational awareness, position navigation and timing (PNT), geospatial intelligence (GEOINT) and resilient global communications. To support such a mission with an increasing level of autonomy, flexible interconnected communication architectures and protocols are paramount.

The aim of this project is to investigate novel communications technologies towards achieving a resilient communications architecture between satellites flying in formation, the ground network and users. Multiple Input Multiple Output (MIMO) and cooperative communications have facilitated some great developments in terrestrial communication systems, including the application of massive MIMO as a core-enabling technology in 5G mobile communications. The parallels from these technologies will be explored for small satellite missions; to securely task space missions for near real-time operations, to enable an efficient network of active space sensors to facilitate distributed/centralised data processing and dissemination of processed/raw payload data back to ground network and directly to warfighters.

This scoping study phase strongly aligns to DST Group’s Resilient Multi-Mission Space STaR Shot. The project will deliver a feasibility study report, with identified technologies, channel models and delivery of a simulation framework with advanced signal processing algorithms and architectures. These will have strong alignment to Defence applications and with a vision to transitioning for further proof of concept prototype demonstrations in subsequent project phases.


Project Leader:
Dr Balachander Ramamurthy, DST Group


Lunar Ground Station Feasibility Study

Advanced Communication, Connectivity & IoT Technologies

In this project, a feasibility study for a lunar optical communications demonstration will be carried out. The project will determine if it is feasible to design, build, and place an optical communications terminal on the lunar surface. This study will include determining what technology is available off the shelf and what would need to be developed.


Project Leader:
Dr Francis Bennett, The Australian National University


Hybrid Terrestrial-Satellite Access System for IoT Applications

Advanced Communication, Connectivity & IoT Technologies

There are several satellite IoT systems currently existing or proposed. These systems are either Sensor to Satellite or Sensor to Gateway to Satellite. There are no existing or proposed IoT systems which do both.

Satellite IoT sensor data can either be transmitted directly from sensor to satellite or can be sent to a gateway, which collects data from many sensors and then uplinks to the satellite. Using a gateway is far more efficient than direct sensor to satellite when there is a high density of sensors in range of the gateway. A single gateway can connect 100s of sensors and backhaul via a single satellite uplink which reduces the overheads compared to those same 100s of sensors each competing for the satellite uplink. When there is a low density of sensors or only a single sensor, then efficiency gains of using a gateway disappear and it is more efficient to go directly from sensor to satellite.

This project will investigate the feasibility of existing standards for IoT and their applicability/ constraints to a Hybrid Sensor to Satellite Network. Outcomes of this project will inform a potential future project that will address issues identified and lead to implementation in Fleet’s Satellite Constellation.


Project Leader:
Dr Phillip Conder, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT)


Hybrid Optical/E-Band Correlated Channel Model

Advanced Communication, Connectivity & IoT Technologies

This project involves the characterisation of Optical and E-band communications channels based on the processing of existing Optical/E-band channel and performance data.

The data, available to DST under licence, has been sourced from a communications system that operated concurrent bidirectional terrestrial line of sight transmission of optical and E-band communications on a near coincident path. The data was captured at a number of locations around the world and is accompanied by weather observations of varying fidelity.

Of particular interest is the development of a high fidelity temporal model of the correlated effects of E-band and optical propagation over a near coincident weather affected path.

The outcome will be a report and/or paper suitable for publishing which encapsulates the findings together with analytic and/or statistical models suitable for ongoing use in communications system performance analysis and modelling.


Project Leader:
Dr Gerald Bolding, DST Group