Aug 07, 2015

UK-built SSTL satellites will be used for city planning in China

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Three Earth observation satellites designed and built by UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) have been placed in a low earth orbit, from where they will provide Earth observation.

The launch of the SSTL satellites is an example of the international nature of space technology in 2015.

The UK-manufactured satellites were launched last month from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota launch site in India.

This is part of an Anglo-China trade deal. A commercial Earth observation satellite operator based in Beijing, called 21AT, has bought the imaging capacity of the three satellites.

The co-operative contract for the DMC3/TripleSat Constellation was signed in London in 2011 and witnessed by the UK prime minister, and China’s premier.

Monitoring applications include urban planning and management, based on changes detected by the satellite images.

The high resolution imager on board the 450kg SSTL-300S1 series satellites was designed and manufactured by SSTL and will provide 1m ground sampling distance (GSD) in panchromatic mode, and 4m GSD in multispectral mode, with a swath width of 23.4km.

The three satellites will be phased 120 degrees apart around the same orbit using their on board propulsion systems within three months after the launch; thus with off-pointing capability, the satellite constellation will be able to target anywhere on Earth once per day.

According to Sir Martin Sweeting, executive chairman of SSTL, these satellites are “the most advanced of SSTL’s Earth Observation spacecraft mounted on a PSLV rocket dedicated to our mission”.

The next stage is for SSTL’s engineers to commission of the platform systems on board the three satellites, from their Space centre at Guildford, Surrey.