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Space Blog

SSTL clock-up twin success in-orbit

Two high performance mircosatellites built by SSTL have entered their third year of in-orbit operations after delivering consistently outstanding results since their launch in October 2005. Both satellites were designed and built by SSTL as Earth observation missions: Beijing-1 for China’s Beijing Landview Mapping Information Technology Ltd (BLMIT), and TopSat for British company QinetiQ on behalf of the UK Government.
These two missions represented a significant development in capability and performance of small satellites, providing 2.5m resolution imagery onboard TopSat, and 4m for Beijing-1. The high performance cameras were designed and built in the UK by Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) and Sira Optronics respectively. Both satellites are built with highly agile attitude control systems that provide accurate pointing to enable several independent images to be targeted in rapid succession. Beijing-1 was launched into the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC), joining four other SSTL-built satellites for a multi-national consortium of owners. As well as contributing images to the DMC, the Chinese satellite is providing pollution and topography data to the Chinese government, much of which has been targeted at reducing pollutants in time for the 2008 Olympic Games to be hosted in the capital. TopSat's primary mission objective was to demonstrate that a microsatellite could deliver responsive high-resolution imagery directly from a satellite to ground terminals within the same footprint. Having fulfilled its original objectives, the satellite is now available for commercial service under the TopSat Consortium: QinetiQ (who own the satellite), SSTL, RAL and Infoterra, all original partners in the mission. Today, both satellites today share a common role in Low Earth Orbit, providing images for the International Charter: Space and Major Disasters, which is currently lead by SSTL’s subsidiary DMCii Ltd on behalf of the British National Space Centre (BNSC). Just two years on, SSTL is developing the next generation DMC satellite for launch in 2009. The SSTL 300 platform will give users access to ever more demanding applications, including 10-metre PAN and 4-metre multi-spectral imaging and a throughput of more than 100 images per day. Sira now forms SSTL’s Optical Payload Group, a 30-man team based at the company’s site in Sevenoaks UK, developing cutting-edge optics systems for space. The DMC provide a unique Earth Observation resource that enables repeat daily imaging of anywhere in the world. Satellite owners contribute images, agreeing to provide 5% of their capacity free for daily imaging of disaster areas, whilst the majority of their capacity is available to support their independent imaging programs. This makes DMC membership particularly attractive to developing nations wishing to extend their reach without the prohibitive cost associated with larger satellites and "going it alone". DMCii Ltd coordinates the distribution and processing of the satellite image data.





20 November 20070 Comments1 Comment

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