Reaching for the stars

Thinking big – CEO and managing director of Sky and Space Global, Israeli Meir Moalem. Photo: Shane Desiatnik

AN Israeli-led firm wowed audiences at the TechKnow conference events in Melbourne and Sydney late last month by announcing world first breakthroughs and plans to launch a network of 200 autonomously controlled telecommunications nanosatellites – each the size of a shoe box – to deliver essential services to millions of people in the developing world.

Sky and Space Global – the only space technology company listed on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) – will launch the nanosatellites into orbit around the equatorial zone in two phases between 2018 and 2020.

The aim is to provide low cost text, voice calls, photo and small data transfer and communications services to anyone with a smartphone anywhere they are across dozens of countries spanning the equatorial zone, including the far northern tip of Australia.

The company’s CEO and managing director, retired Israeli Air Force jet fighter pilot Meir Moalem, told The AJN while in Sydney that Sky and Space Global that the most exciting thing is knowing that the technology is proven, and the result will not only generate an estimated $600 million to $1 billion in revenues within four years, but also provide essential services to people, government and industry in parts of countries without access to even the most basic communications infrastructure.

“I’ve heard the debate about NBN connectivity here in Australia – well, unfortunately there are many people who can only dream about things like that.

“We believe that once we deploy, there will be a significant beneficial impact on the people living in these areas.
“And there’s no contradiction between doing good and making a lot of money in the process – I truly believe that you can do both.”

Five months ago Sky and Space Global, whose head office is in Perth, launched its first three nanosatellites into space, and by September it had achieved a world first by facilitating a voice call from a smartphone using them.
The company is partnering with Virgin Orbit and Italy’s D-Orbit to launch the constellation, and its customers already include big telecommunications players like Sat-Space Africa.

It all began with Moalem’s idea, and became achievable with the input of Israeli colleagues Meidad Pariente and Yonatan Shrama, and the ASX listing, “which has turned out to be a very good decision for us”.

“I think part of the formula for success for anything in life is that you never give up,” Moalem said.
“Now, for us, the sky is the lower limit.”

Also presenting at TechKnow was Israeli-founded, ASX-listed wireless communications solutions company Mobilicom, which will open its first Australian office in Melbourne next month.

It’s CEO, Oren Elkayam, said the company is aiming to improve access to the Asia-Pacific market for its latest product, Sky Hopper, which service the drone and robotics sectors.