New UK Spacecraft Set For Blast-off

Three new British spacecraft, to image the surface of the Earth, are to be launched in a new £100m project.

Due to be orbited in 2013, the satellites will record details down to one metre at their best resolution.

The launch is a commercial venture between the spacecraft manufacturer Surrey Satellite Technology Limited and DMCii, its data processing subsidiary.

In Prague, which is hosting this year's International Astronautical Congress, Sir Martin Sweeting, Executive Chairman of SSTL said: "This constellation of three satellites will be owned and operated from the UK but the capacity on the spacecraft will be leased to different international customers.”

SSTL and DMCii already operate a fleet of 100kg-class imaging satellites, but these are owned by different nations, including the UK, China, Spain and Nigeria.

The new spacecraft's broad-swath facility will allow DMCii to continue to use the new satellites for disaster response. Its current fleet plays a major role in acquiring the urgent maps needed by relief agencies.

This year, the satellites have been active in monitoring the impacts of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The new spacecraft should be ready for launch on a single rocket by the end of 2013.


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