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Fleet Space mineral exploration rockets

Metal Tech News - April 8, 2024


A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying Fleet Space's Centauri-6 launches from the Kennedy Space Center.

Centauri-6 delivers upgrades and optimizations to constellation of satellites that enable Fleet Space's ExoSphere mineral exploration tech.

The payload of SpaceX Falcon 9 launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 7 included a next-generation Centauri-6 satellite that will upgrade and expand upon Fleet Space Technologies' constellation of low-earth-orbit (LEO) satellites that are playing a vital role in exploring Earth for the minerals needed for the clean energy transition.

"Humanity's expanding satellite infrastructure is rapidly unlocking new capabilities that can help to address some of the most pressing challenges facing our planet. At current rates of mineral discoveries and production, our net-zero goals and clean energy future are unattainable in the coming decades," said Fleet Space Technologies CEO Flavia Tata Nardini. "Leveraging the latest advances in space technology, AI, and geophysics - Fleet Space is demonstrating a path to accelerate mineral exploration in a more data-driven, scalable, and sustainable way."

Fleet Space's satellite-enabled Exosphere mineral exploration solution has quickly gained popularity amongst some of the world's leading mineral exploration and mining companies.

Rio Tinto, Barrick Gold, and Core Lithium are just a few of the more than 40 companies that have used Exosphere to complete over 300 surveys over the past year in the search for a variety of critical minerals on five continents.

The rapid adoption of Exosphere has catalyzed rocketing success for Fleet Space, which is allowing the Australia-based tech company to upgrade and expand upon both its LEO satellites and the earthbound technologies that support both mineral exploration and critical communications for military missions by Australia and its allies.

Space Age mineral exploration

Fleet Space's ExoSphere is a Space Age evolution of airborne geophysics that has been a pillar of mineral exploration programs around the world for decades.

Much like how MRIs or X-rays are used to look inside a body, geophysics utilizes specialized equipment and techniques to image the rocks below the earth's surface. Geoscientists use this imagery to determine where underground bodies enriched with minerals might be located.

ExoSphere uses a geophysics method known as ambient noise tomography (ANT) to map Earth's subsurface to discover deposits of cobalt, copper, lithium, nickel, and other minerals and metals.

As Fleet satellites circle above, earthbound crews lay out a grid of Geodes: hand-transportable sensors that have the capacity to provide a full 3D visualization of the subsurface to depths of 1.6 miles (2.5 kilometers).

Fleet Space Technologies

Fleet Space Geodes use built-in edge processing to significantly reduce the volume of data that must be transmitted to LEO satellites.

Once sufficient data is gathered, the wireless and battery-powered Geodes utilize edge processing to partially process the raw information onsite, significantly reducing the volume of data that must be transmitted.

Once this initial edge processing is complete, the streamlined data is securely transmitted to Fleet Space's LEO satellite network.

This near real-time transfer means that 3D models of the subsurface are available to geoscientists roughly 15 times faster than old-school geophysical techniques that require all the data from the survey to be physically transported to a location where it can be unpacked, uploaded, processed, and analyzed.

Fleet says the speed of this imaging now means that thousands of square kilometers of prospective ground can be surveyed in a fraction of the time of traditional methods.

"This cleaner, faster and more flexible approach to exploration answers the urgent global requirement to find more than $13 trillion in critical earth transition minerals," said Fleet Space Technologies Chief Exploration Officer Matt Pearson.

In March, Fleet Space introduced a suite of machine learning and real-time data processing enhancements that further increase the speed and power of ExoSphere.

"Leveraging the latest advances in space technology, AI, and geophysics - Fleet Space is demonstrating a path to accelerate mineral exploration in a more data-driven, scalable, and sustainable way," said Nardini.

Centauri-6 upgrades fleet

The deployment of Centauri-6, one of the 11 satellites aboard SpaceX's Bandwagon-1 mission that launched from Cape Canaveral on Sunday evening, is the latest upgrade to Fleet Space's mineral exploration technology.


SpaceX's Bandwagon-1 Mission launch.

Centauri-6 has been designed with multiple upgrades to optimize the resilience and durability of the satellite while also enhancing the overall capacity of the Fleet Space LEO satellite constellation it has joined.

"Centauri-6 is a portal into a future of efficient, mass-scale satellite manufacturing that can unlock previously unimaginable satellite-enabled solutions to hard problems on Earth," said Nardini.

With greater uplink capacity and redundancy, Centauri-6 enables more resilient data transfer from Fleet Space's satellite-enabled Geode seismic sensors on the ground, which will help support the growing demand for ExoSphere.

The latest Fleet Space satellite also boasts an ion electric propulsion system powered by solar panels to provide thrust in the vacuum of space, as well as 3D-printed components – including the 3D-printed metal patch antenna Fleet Space pioneered on earlier Centauri satellites.

"This marks a significant leap forward in the history of spacecraft – making a future with more energy-efficient, high-performing, flexible, and resilient microsatellite infrastructure within reach for the global space sector," said Pearson.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Metal Tech News

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With more than 16 years of covering mining, Shane is renowned for his insights and and in-depth analysis of mining, mineral exploration and technology metals.


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