The University of New South Wales (UNSW) Canberra and the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) have launched a miniature satellite into space.

Known as the M2 Pathfinder satellite, the CubeSat represents a major step in the development of Australian Defence Forces (ADF) space systems.

It will be used to test radio communications technologies.

The small satellite is approximately the size of a loaf of bread. This type of capability will allow low-cost testing of high-technology abilities in space.

In the following months, UNSW Canberra will conduct a series of communications tests with the M2 Pathfinder satellite.

The engineering and flight operations teams will improve the design of future satellites as per the results obtained for the ADF.

Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said: “The collaboration between UNSW Canberra and airforce allows small satellites to be used for evaluating technologies on more complex space systems, such as communications or earth observation satellites.

“Through this collaboration, it has enabled UNSW Canberra to develop a number of space courses and programmes to benefit defence personnel.

“The experience gained in the development and operation of these spacecraft also offers educational benefits for defence personnel studying space programs at UNSW Canberra. This further enhances the future defence space workforce.”

Multiple Australian suppliers and industry partners have contributed to the development of the satellite.

Operated by the Australian National University, the Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre has also participated in the project.

Australian Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said: “The Advanced Instrumentation and Technology Centre is an example of the world-class space capabilities on offer by Australian industry and academia.

“UNSW has partnered with many Australian companies from across eastern Australia showcasing the breadth of skills, talent and ingenuity in bringing Australian manufacturing into the future.”