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Wed, 27 Aug 2008

RapidEye constellation ready for launch

The 5-satellite RapidEye constellation is ready for launch from Baikonur on August 29, 2008.

All five satellites have been integrated with the Dnepr launch vehicle at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan in readiness for launch at 0715 UTC (0815 BST, 0915 CEST). An MDA/SSTL launch team arrived in Baikonur early July to conduct final tests and integration of the spacecraft with the Dnepr rocket.

SSTL in Guildford, UK, designed and built the spacecraft bus, the spacecraft control centre and performed the spacecraft assembly, integration and test. MDA’s subcontractor Jena-Optronik GmbH of Jena, Germany, designed and built the imaging payloads.

MDA is the prime contractor of the RapidEye mission that is delivered turnkey and in-orbit to RapidEye AG. MDA has direct responsibility for the mission design, the spacecraft design and the ground planning and image processing system. The Canadian Commercial Corporation, a Government of Canada Crown corporation, is acting as the contracting agency between MDA and RapidEye AG.

RapidEye is a commercial small satellite mission that will enable global monitoring of the Earth’s surface. The constellation is designed to provide insurance and food companies, farmers, government and other agencies and institutions throughout the world with valuable, up-to-date, customised information products and services of the highest quality.

The dedicated launch will place the five satellites in a common sun-synchronous orbit of 630 km, with the satellites equally spaced about 19 minutes apart in their orbit, ensuring frequent imaging of particular areas of interests.

The RapidEye system will image any area in the world at all latitudes between +/- 75 degrees within one day and cover the entire agricultural areas of North America and Europe within an average of five days. The multi-spectral pushbroom style imager onboard each spacecraft will image the Earth in five spectral bands, scanning a 78 km swath at 6.5m resolution.

About MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd (MDA)

MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd (MDA) is the prime contractor for the RapidEye mission, responsible for the design and implementation of a turnkey system, including space and ground segments, launch, in-orbit commissioning, calibration of the spacecraft constellation and establishing the mission operations infrastructure.

MDA provides advanced information solutions that capture and process vast amounts of data, produce essential information and improve the decision-making and operational performance of business and government organisations worldwide. Focused on markets and customers with strong repeat business potential, MDA delivers a broad spectrum of Earth and space-based information solutions, ranging from complex operation systems, to tailored information services, to electronic information products.

MDA employs more than 3300 people in locations across the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. The Company’s common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol. TSX:MDA.

About SSTL

SSTL develops innovative technologies to change the economics of space, delivering cost effective satellite missions within rapid timescales. The Company is a world leader in the design, manufacture and operation of high performance small satellites with experience gained over more than 25 years and 27 missions launched.

SSTL employs 300 staff working on LEO, MEO, GEO and interplanetary missions, turnkey satellite platforms and space-proven satellite subsystems and optical systems. The Company also provides training and development programmes and consultancy services, and performs studies for ESA, NASA and commercial customers related to platform design, mission analysis and planning.

Based in Guildford, UK, SSTL is currently owned by the University of Surrey (85%), SSTL staff (5%), and SpaceX of the USA (10%).

About RapidEye AG

RapidEye is an ISO-certified geospatial information provider focused on integrating customized and industry specific solutions into the workflow of global customers in agriculture, forestry, energy, infrastructure, government, security and emergency services.

The RapidEye system comprises a constellation of five satellites capable of downloading over 4 million km² of high resolution, multi-spectral imagery per day, control station and ground segment for processing and archiving data. With RapidEye's team of experts the RapidEye Constellation is set to provide cost-effective customized services.

The unique combination of large area coverage, high spatial resolution and the possibility of daily revisit to an area provide for superior management information solutions in agriculture, forestry and cartography. Currently more than 90 experts from more than 20 countries worldwide are employed by RapidEye. Following a successful launch, plans are being made to increase the team to over 140. For more information, please visit

About Jena-Optronik GmbH

Jena-Optronik produces opto-electronic instruments and systems, guidance, navigation and control (GNC) sensors, software for satellites and for image analysis to be used by the international aerospace industry. The company can rely on 135 highly qualified employees and their unique know-how.

Notes to editor:

This press release is available as Word and pdf from the SSTL online press room :

SSTL Contact:

Audrey Nice, Surrey Satellite Technology Limited

Tel: +44 (0)1483 804200 Email:

Press Contact:

Robin Wolstenholme, Ballard Communications Management (BCM)

Tel: +44 (0)1306 882288 Email: