Carbonite-2 satellite enters orbit to test British intel-gathering capability | World Defense

Carbonite-2 satellite enters orbit to test British intel-gathering capability

Khafee

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Carbonite-2 satellite enters orbit to test British intel-gathering capability
By: Andrew Chuter  
13 Jan 2018

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The Carbonite-2 is shown flight-ready at SSTL. (SSTL/Beaucroft Photograpy)

LONDON ― A British-built satellite set to be used by the Ministry of Defence to test whether constellations of small spacecraft can provide tactical intelligence has been successfully launched on an Indian-built rocket.

The technology demonstrator satellite, called Carbonite-2, has been successfully placed into low-Earth orbit after it and a communications spacecraft, were launched onboard the PSLV rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India.

Surrey Satellite Technology Limited, the Airbus-owned company that developed and built the spacecraft, announced the launch earlier Friday but made no mention of the military interest in the spacecrafts.

It said in a statement that initial systems checks on Carbonite-2 had been successful.

SSTL did not return calls from Defense News.

Carbonite-2 is primarily aimed at demonstrating a commercial Earth observation capability, but the MoD is also investing more than £4 million (U.S. $5 million) in the program trialing the capabilities of the system to provide reconnaissance video and still imagery.

The MoD is refusing to confirm it has a stake in the Carbonite-2 program but does admit it has a deal with a commercial satellite provider, who it won’t name.

In November when Defense News reported the existence of the deal, an MoD spokesman said: “We have entered into an agreement with a commercial satellite provider for a capability demonstrator program.

“The program will play a crucial role in shaping our vision for a future constellation of small satellites, comprising a diverse range of sensors and ground stations, and offers the U.K. the opportunity to lead the development of that program.”

The British are not known to have invested in this kind of space program since a joint venture with the then-British National Space Centre saw an SSTL-built demonstrator satellite called TopSat launched in 2005.

The MoD is expected to start receiving test data from the satellite in the next few weeks.

The sensors employed on Carbonite-2 would enable the military to film moving objects such as vehicles, aircraft and ships in ultrahigh definition, color video, as well as undertake rapid tasking of satellites and provide fast data download within minutes of acquisition.

The 100-kilogram satellite will demonstrate a low-cost video-from-orbit solution using a commercial off-the-shelf telescope and high-definition video. The imaging system is designed to deliver 1-meter resolution images and color video clips with a swath width of 5 kilometers.

The first demonstrator spacecraft, Carbonite-1, was launched in 2015.

Although the MoD has a significant interest in the program, the principle reason for launching the pre-production prototype is to support a deal announced last November between SSTL and British commercial imagery provider Earth-i.

The current spacecraft will supply Earth-i with data for proving tasking, downlinking and image processing ahead of the launch of a constellation of five Carbonite-series satellites starting early 2019.

Earth-i said in a statement that introduction the new technology will give it the first European constellation able to provide video and still imagery.


https://www.c4isrnet.com/c2-comms/satellites/2018/01/12/carbonite-2-satellite-enters-orbit-to-test-british-intel-gathering-capability/
 

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02 MARCH 2018
British RAF’s Carbonite-2 satellite launched into space


The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has successfully launched the Carbonite-2 demonstrator satellite from Sriharikota in India.

For the first time, the 100kg Carbonite-2 spacecraft has supplied imagery and footage following completion of initial checks.

Chief of air staff Sir Stephen Hillier said: “This satellite will not only expand further the RAF’s growing air and space capabilities, it will, I hope, also be an inspiration to those young people looking towards technology as a way to realise their potential.”

The RAF has collaborated with the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) chief scientific advisor, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, and the UK industry to work jointly on the programme to ensure the delivery of high-quality imagery and 3D video footage from space.

The programme also focuses on enabling high-tech satellites to deliver video directly into the cockpit of the fighter aircraft.

This will help enhance situational awareness of the RAF pilots who are expected to receive the best imagery and data anywhere on Earth in real-time.
“The success of this satellite shows we are looking far beyond the skies when it comes to defending our country.”

UK Defence Procurement Minister Guto Bebb said: “The success of this satellite shows we are looking far beyond the skies when it comes to defending our country.
“We live in an increasingly dangerous world and satellite technology like this give our armed forces the extra advantage of quick video surveillance to keep us safe from a range of future threats, whether that’s an airborne terror attack or a troop of tanks closing in on a foreign border.”

Eight months ago, the UK MoD invested £4.5m into the Carbonite-2 programme with Surrey Satellite Technology in Guildford, the company that has developed the technology behind the satellite.

The satellite carries a custom-built off-the-shelf telescope and HD video camera. The imaging system of the spacecraft has the ability to generate high-resolution images and colour HD video clips with a swath width of 5km.

http://www.airforce-technology.com/news/british-rafs-carbonite-2-satellite-launched-space/
 

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The British intelligence capability shrunk dramatically given a space for other countries to take over, too late.
 

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