15 January 2018 News

Earth-i launches first-of-a-kind satellite

CARBONITE-2 (Image: Earth-i)
CARBONITE-2 (Image: Earth-i)

Earth-i, a pioneering satellite and data services company based in the UK, has confirmed that its first-of-a-kind, pre-production prototype satellite of its upcoming Vivid-i satellite constellation was successfully launched on Friday.

The new commercial constellation boosts that it will not only significantly increase the ability of companies and institutions to monitor, track and analyse activities, patterns of life and changes at any location on earth but that it will also be the first to provide full-colour video. It is also the first European-owned constellation able to provide both video and still images.

Designated CARBONITE-2 by the manufacturers of the satellite, Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), the prototype satellite was launched on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

CARBONITE-2 (referred to as VividX2 by the Earth-i team) is a technology demonstration mission, that is set to demonstrate and prove technology and processes for Earth-i’s forthcoming constellation. This includes data downlinks to ground stations, tasking, image quality and the complex motion control systems that enable the spacecraft to capture video from space.

The Vivid-i constellation will consist of 15 satellites launched in batches of 5, with further batches in line with demand.

Speaking of the launch, Dr Graham Turnock, Chief Executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “Today’s launch is a significant moment for the UK and global space industries with Earth-i’s progress being tracked across the world. Earth-i is an exciting and innovative British company and is a fine example of our thriving space sector.

“The Government’s recently published Industrial Strategy set out a clear vision for the UK to become the world’s most innovative nation and we are working with industry to capture 10% of the global space market by 2030.”

The constellation will be a major leap forward for the Earth Observation industry providing a number of innovative capabilities including; the ability to film moving objects such as vessels, vehicles and aircraft in Ultra High Definition colour video and the provision of high-frame rate images with resolutions better than one metre for any location on Earth. In addition to this, it will also be able to revisit the same location multiple times per day with agile satellites that can be pointed to image specific areas of interest.

Josef Aschbacher, Director of Earth Observation Programmes at the European Space Agency (ESA) said: “The launch of VividX2 is a significant next development of Earth-i’s constellation, and welcomed by ESA. The Vivid-i Constellation will provide capabilities we haven’t seen before including full-colour video, and an assured stream of high-quality data from space to help improve both our planet and our lives on Earth.

ESA looks forward to working with Earth-i to assess the benefits of Vivid-i observations as part of a renewed effort of ESA to engage with commercial companies to support European Earth Observation ventures.”

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