UK launched two observation satellites
The two satellites were launched into a 580km sun-synchronous orbit on board the PSLV launch vehicle from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India on 16 September at UTC 16:38 by Antrix Corporation Limited, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation.
NovaSAR-1 is the first SAR spacecraft to be manufactured entirely in the UK and is a technology demonstration mission designed to test the capabilities of a new low cost S-Band SAR platform.
NovaSAR-1 will be the world’s first commercial SAR satellite to be operated at a 10:30 equator crossing time, providing time diversity for radar observations by affording increased daylight imaging opportunities in addition to night acquisitions.
Synthetic Aperture Radar is a powerful tool for monitoring the Earth from space due to its ability to see through clouds and image the Earth night and day, and a constellation of three NovaSAR satellites could image any point on the globe every day, regardless of local time or weather.
Mission partners signed up for capacity from NovaSAR-1 include the UK Space Agency, Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
The UK Space Agency has invested £21M in the development of NovaSAR-1 and will benefit from access to data from the spacecraft, significantly boosting the UK’s sovereign Earth observation capabilities and leveraging additional inward investment to the UK by creating highly skilled jobs in the UK space industry, and stimulating the growth of data analysis services. ■