SpaceTechnology

Iceye is now a member of the Copernicus Earth-observation Program

It was announced today that Iceye has been awarded a contract to supply data from its network of tiny synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) spacecraft to Copernicus, which is the European Union program that is tasked with providing continuous, worldwide Earth observation. The announcement marks the first time that an entrepreneurial SAR company has been designated as a Copernicus Contributing Mission, which means that its imagery and data is going to be made available free of charge to the European public entities, European service providers, as well as international entities which does serve European citizens.

As Iceye’s CEO and co-founder Rafal Modrzewski explained to SpaceNews, “This will go on the wall of Iceye firsts, which include: the world’s first small SAR satellite, the world’s first SAR video, and now the world’s first NewSpace SAR firm to be a part of this huge contracting vehicle with extremely stringent service as well as data-quality requirements.” The ability to leverage the potential of large revisit rates is something we are focusing on ahead of the users. Due in part to Iceye, Finland was awarded the gold medal for the SAR revisit rates in the month of April by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which conducted a market research report themed around the Olympic Games and assessed global Earth-observation capabilities.

Customers are becoming more educated about the distinctions between systems, which is something Modrzewski is pleased to see, he added. The inquiry, “What am I actually looking for and which the system is the most ideal for me to obtain that kind of capability?” is an excellent one to ponder. Iceye has launched a total of 14 spacecraft to date in order to attain high revisit rates. In 2022, the business intends to increase the number of satellites in its constellation by over ten.

Iceye will provide imagery and data as part of its role as the Copernicus Contributing Mission. Government agencies and commercial users are increasingly demanding data services, such as maritime vessel detection or remote site monitoring, rather than just data. Having been approved as a Copernicus Contributing Mission is “a significant step forward,” according to Modrzewski, “but it will be amazing to look into really providing services to the users.”

Applicants for Copernicus Contributing Missions must go through a rigorous selection process. Iceye was chosen as the Third-Party Mission under review by European Space Agency, which is a Copernicus partner and is scheduled to launch in 2019. Iceye was designated as an approved Third-Party Mission by the European Space Agency (ESA) two years later, allowing academics and scientists to access free photos and data.

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