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Government and industry to invest in world-leading UK satellite constellation

29 Nov 2011

David Willetts has today announced investment in a new British-built satellite constellation able to monitor maritime security, climate change and humanitarian disasters.

Artist's impression of NovaSAR in flight. Credit: SSTL. (JPG, 40 Kb) 
Artist's impression of NovaSAR in flight.
Credit: SSTL.

NovaSAR will consist of four state-of-the-art Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites able to operate day and night in all weather conditions. They can be used for repeated viewing of specific areas which makes them ideal for maritime surveillance of drug-trafficking, piracy and oil spills, and environmental monitoring of deforestation, flooding and glacial melts.

Government will provide £21 million to assist in the development and launch of the first satellite. Success will unlock over £150 million of inward investment to the UK. Once NovaSAR is up and running, businesses will be able to use the satellite data to develop a range of Earth observation services.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts said:

“Satellites enable us to monitor and manage some of the most important issues affecting our planet. This exciting project will provide the UK with a world-leading constellation of its own and is a clear signal of the Government’s continued commitment to the UK space industry.

“NovaSAR will keep us at the forefront of space technology, and will drive growth and innovation as governments and businesses across the globe develop scientific and commercial uses for the data.”

The first NovaSAR demonstration satellite will be built by UK-based company Surrey Satellite Technology Limited with a payload provided by Astrium in the UK. This will be a technology demonstration on a much smaller spacecraft than traditional SAR satellites, dramatically reducing cost.

Government investment is subject to agreeing a business case and other regulatory and contract terms between industry and the UK Space Agency.

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