Spanish boost for satellites combining radar and optical imaging

Spanish boost for satellites combining radar and optical imaging

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

ICeye, the Finnish owner of the world’s largest synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite constellation, has teamed up to develop and build a new generation of satellites that combine radar and optical imaging in Spain.

It is working with Satlantis to manufacture four satellites for a new constellation in low earth orbit called Tandem for Earth Observation (Tandem4EO). This will consist of two radar and two VHR optical satellites with a resolution of under 1m.

ICeye will expand its manufacturing and R&D facilities in Jumilla, Spain, as will Satlantis at its headquarters in Bilbao. Both companies say they will continue to increase their investments in their local operations.

The Tandem4EO constellation will fly in a sun-synchronous orbit, with two ICeye SAR imaging spacecraft flying in a bistatic formation, and two Satlantis very high-resolution optical imaging spacecraft trailing behind. The closely coordinated operations will be able to monitor natural catastrophes, security, environmental monitoring at land and sea, infrastructure development and provide precise SAR Interferometry (InSAR) based change detection.

“Earth observation is ultimately about truly understanding what is happening in a selected location – with confidence,” said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and Co-founder of ICeye. “To achieve robust and fast analysis, combining the strengths of optical and SAR satellites in a single constellation yields incredibly useful insights for stakeholders in Spain and Europe.”

“Spain is in a remarkable position in Europe, with two leading New Space companies established in its territory opening new and unique opportunities in Earth observation,” said Juan Tomás Hernani, CEO of Satlantis. “This proposed initiative is the type of aerospace collaboration that would not have been feasible before. We’re in the golden age of New Space, and now is the right time to act on it.”

The combination of SAR and optical imaging with video capability in Tandem4EO will boost the effectiveness for assessing in detail what is happening in a location of interest right now and over time. The bi-static nature of the ICeye SAR satellites allows for simultaneous radar acquisitions to produce InSAR data.

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