Southern Launch is a rocket launch service provider, headquartered in Adelaide, South Australia. Their offering includes the Whalers Way Orbital Launch Complex and the Koonibba Test Range, their suborbital testing facility. Their team of leading engineers, project managers, specialists and space regulation experts have developed a full-service continuum catering to the key needs of rocket manufacturers and their payload customers. Recently they were in the market for a reliable and secure communications system for their launch facilities and ranges, which cover a large, undulating and geographically challenging landscape and for that they turned to D2N – Technology Solutions.
Southern Launch’s Mission Control Manager, Shane Bennett, explained, “Southern Launch reached out to several suppliers and found D2N to be the most understanding of our needs and able to develop suitable solutions to our unique and challenging requirements.”
The Southern Launch team in front of the Hapith Rocket at Whalers Way in September 2021
Southern Launch required a fully encrypted and mission critical communications system that would also provide blue force GPS tracking, recording of all conversations, and dispatch covering a huge site. On top of this communications system, Southern Launch had a requirement for high speed, 4K video streaming capabilities that could be reliably transmitted across the launch range networks in real time.
Bennett continued, “D2N proposed a solution including a Hytera Two-Way Radio Network and Kiloview IP video encoders. Southern Launch utilised the two-way radio system to ensure all staff were contactable and accounted for during all safety critical stages of the launch. The ability to communicate clearly across the very rugged terrain and utilise the GPS tracking capabilities provided the Southern Launch senior operational team real-time situational awareness of all staff locations and status.”
The Kiloview encoders provided the mission control team with clear real-time footage of remote camera systems and enabled a robust stream that could be rapidly replayed and appropriately backed up and secured.
According to Bennett the D2N system went together quickly and got Southern Launch the coverage they required immediately.
Bennett added, “D2N provided us with an efficient solution, and we had never seen this type of video encoding kit before. That said, it worked perfectly and was very effective. The radio solution was designed by D2N to deliver ultra-reliable communications across the entire site. This system provided the backbone for our security, range management and mission control, and is a critical enabler for us to undertake safe and secure launch operations.”
Southern Launch are using several ultra-high-resolution fixed and remote drone mounted cameras around the launch site to capture the testing and launch of space vehicles in real time and at super slow-motion speeds. They encode the cameras using Kiloview equipment again supplied by D2N and bring it back over their IP network for recording and viewing inside their Range Operations Centre.
Bennett said, “All our devices are 4K capable, so it’s straightforward to have a 4K source connected to them. We also configure and deploy the entire D2N radio network for each launch campaign, which is a significant undertaking given there are three repeater sites which all require antennas, power and IP connectivity. At the end of each campaign we deactivate and demobilise the sites. Given this is not a fixed install the ease of packaging and the durability of the kit are very important for us.”
When all is said and done, for Bennett the real “wow” factor with the D2N comms solution is value for money as he explained, “We went back and forward for months discussing the radio network and when it came down to it the Hytera kit stood head and shoulders over the competition in terms of price and feature set with no sacrifice in performance.”
D2N MD Jason Owen said, “This is yet another example of how D2N focuses on fit-for-purpose solutions and not on the most expensive. We want to build ongoing relationships with our customers and not for a single sale, no matter how big the cost is. The Hytera solution we provided Southern Launch with offers the same level of encryption and quality as many other tier 1 manufacturers but at a far more competitive price point.”
To Bennett’s point Southern Launch and D2N spent a lot of time discussing the requirements for the project, and to ensure the equipment met Southern Launch’s needs D2N was able to provide initial rental equipment so they could trial the technology and ensure it would suit their needs.
Shane Bennett concluded, “In this way, as D2N offered us a rental solution first, we didn’t need to commit to a big capital expenditure without trialling the kit – a major bonus for us. The D2N comms solution met all of our requirements and also freed up funding that would otherwise have been spent on more expensive brands. That financial advantage along with the flexibility of their Hytera solution simply means we have the very best communications solution for our requirements.”
For more on Southern Launch go to: https://www.southernlaunch.space
For more information on the Hytera comms solution that D2N supplied Southern Launch with go to: