India’s Antrix Corporation Limited, the commercial arm of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has signed an agreement with the UK’s Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL), for the launch of NovaSAR-1, a small Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellite, into a 580-kilometer altitude Sun-synchronous orbit, and SSTL S1-4, a high-resolution Earth observation satellite.
The two small satellites will launch on an ISRO Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), in a launch mission labeled PSLV-C42, due to launch some time in September 2018.
NovaSAR-1 is a technology demonstration satellite mission designed to test the capabilities of a new low cost S-Band SAR platform. The spacecraft was designed and manufactured by SSTL, with an S-Band SAR payload developed by Airbus Defence and Space in Portsmouth, UK, and an Automatic Identification System (AIS) receiver supplied by ComDev to track ships at sea. Partly funded by the UK Government, NovaSAR-1 will also be tasked ten per-cent of the time by Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) following an agreement signed with SSTL in 2017. NovaSAR-1 will be operated from SSTL’s Spacecraft Operations Centre in Guildford, UK.
The UK Space Agency has invested £21 million in the development of NovaSAR-1 and will benefit from access to data from the spacecraft, significantly boosting the UK’s sovereign Earth observation capabilities and leveraging additional inward investment to the UK by creating highly skilled jobs in the UK space industry, and stimulating the growth of data analysis services.
Also on the PSLV-C42 launch will be the SSTL S1-4, a sub-one metre resolution Earth observation satellite with a mass of 440kg. The SSTL S1-4 satellite is identical to the three DMC3 satellites in the TripleSat Constellation launched in 2015, and in Februrary 2018 Chinese geospatial company Twenty First Century Aerospace Technology Co. Ltd. (21AT) of Beijing signed a contract with SSTL to lease data capacity from the satellite.