A second spy satellite built by Australia and the United States is due to lift off from a launch site in New Zealand on Tuesday.
The first of two satellites, which will be used to collect intelligence for allied nations, was launched two weeks ago.
The Australian Department of Defense has not announced the successful launch of the first satellite or the launch date for the second.
The US spy agency, the National Reconnaissance Office, celebrated “The Down Under Adventure”, which features a crocodile, rocket and eagle in its logo.
Some in the space industry are baffled by the lack of information and fanfare on the Australian side.
Malcolm Davis, senior analyst and resident space expert at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said there is a “very different culture” between the US military, which actively promotes its work, and the Australian military, which is ” closed”.
“It’s not just these particular satellites, it’s an attitude within Defense that they’re very closed off,” he said.
“The Americans are very advanced. Just look at how they support movies like Top Gun: Maverick. It’s a very different culture, and it’s frustrating here.
The first satellite, NROL-162, features a frilled lizard patch. “The frilled lizard is a reptile primarily found in northern Australia and, like the lizard, it represents the small and agile nature of the throwing payload,” the NRO said.
Its logo says a wise man who sees“Wise is he who looks ahead”.
The second, NROL-199, has a dingo: “It represents a small to medium-sized dog built for speed, agility and endurance.” Its logo says ad astra for aspera: “Through the ordeals to the stars.
New Zealand’s Rocket Lab is supplying the rockets to deliver the classified payloads into orbit from the launch site on the Māhia Peninsula.
The mission of the NRO is to “produce intelligence products” for policy makers and “combatants” as well as for civilian use.
A defense spokesman said the department has partnered with the NRO for “two space missions as part of a wide range of cooperative satellite activities.”
As Defense Minister Peter Dutton announced Australia’s intention to work with the NRO to build a “more capable, integrated and resilient space architecture designed to provide global coverage in support of a wide range of intelligence mission requirements”.
Earlier this year, he announced a separate plan to develop a surveillance satellite with Queensland firm Gilmour Space Technologies, which is due to launch next year.
NRO projects are in preparation for Defense Project 799. The Federal Government pledged $500 million to DEF-799, to “enhance Australia’s space-based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to support the operations of Australian Defense Forces around the world and at home”.
“The next goal is to build our own satellites,” Davis said. “So these are important milestones… these are like intermediate tests that we co-developed with the Americans.”
The defense spokesman said details about the payloads and missions of the satellites were “protected”.
“Defence will continue to improve Australia’s ability to generate military effects using the space domain,” they said.
“This will be achieved through efforts that include building resilient capabilities in denied environments and ensuring access to space.”
The launch of NROL-199 was originally scheduled for July 22 but was delayed due to software issues.