When the Australian Space Agency was established in mid-2018, its mission was to triple the size of the domestic space economy and create 20,000 jobs by 2030.
‘Using satellite capacity exclusively in Australia, LatConnect 60 will fill key data gaps for customers, develop local capability to create jobs and help grow the rapidly emerging Australian space sector.’
- Venkat Pillay Chief Executive Officer, LatConnect 60, on the UK Space Bridge announcement
In 2019, Venkat Pillay (Chief Executive Officer) and Rueben Rajasingam (Chief Operating Officer) established LatConnect 60.
The Western Australian startup and smart satellite provider, LatConnect 60, has a leadership team with an impressive track record. They have worked at NASA, the Canadian and European space programs, Australia’s science institute CSIRO, and BHP Billiton.
By 2021, this startup had truly scaled up.
In May 2021, LatConnect 60 partnered with the UK’s Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) under the UK-Australia Space Bridge program. A world-first, the program is designed to boost investment, collaboration and knowledge across both countries’ space sectors.
The UK-Australia Space Bridge is one of many recent announcements that have opened the door for the Australian space sector in the UK.
The recently signed Australia-UK Free Trade Agreement will further support business collaboration, improving business transactions and the mobility of professional staff.
According to Rajasingam, LatConnect 60 is also attracting interest from international investors and organisations globally, with the help of Austrade.
‘Since the pandemic hit, we have been talking to organisations everywhere,’ he says. ‘We are the first private company to co-own and task a satellite out of Australia. We’ve leapfrogged the whole development pathway. We now have the control to do what we do best – space-based earth observation.
‘In a nutshell, we gather earth observation data in the visible and near-infrared bands, we fuse it with a range of other data sources and provide useful insights for a range of industries.’
‘LatConnect 60 is all about getting the right type of data and insights an industry or business needs,’ Chairman Mick Bolto explains. ‘International investors are looking to invest into more sustainable practices in Australia. We will continue to work with Austrade to help Australia’s regional industries become more productive and economically sound.’
And that is exactly what industries, from agriculture to shipping, are looking for.
LatConnect 60 can map large swathes of land on a nationwide scale. The resolution is sharp enough to scrutinise farm boundaries in detail and detect changes in crop health over time.
Rajasingam explains: ‘From a macro-level, this data will enable us to get useful insights at scale to assist renewable industries, farmers and insurers.
The partnership between LatConnect 60 and Western Australia’s Curtin University’s Intelligent Sensing & Perception Laboratory is notable. They are using satellite sensor data from Spire Global with LatConnect 60’s sensor-fusion algorithms to monitor maritime traffic and avoid collisions in narrow shipping lanes.
‘The benefits will also potentially lower insurance premiums for operators using the solution. This will make Australia, and the world, a safer place,’ says Rajasingam.