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Pint-Size Satellites Promise Spy-Quality Images - Cheap

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DocM    16,615

25 times smaller, 100 lbs, and with 1 meter resolution.

 

Constellation up about 2020.

 

https://www.capellaspace.com

 

Bloomberg....

 

Quote

Pint-Size Satellites Promise Spy-Quality Images - Cheap

 


For decades, spy agencies have had access to a magic-seeming technology known as SAR, or synthetic aperture radar. A satellite with SAR onboard can send radar beams from space that bounce off Earth and then return to a sensor, which assembles the information to produce an immaculate image. The key to the technology - what separates it from high-powered optical telescopes - is that the beams can pass through clouds and work at night. They make the invisible visible.
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A typical [SAR] satellite can be the size of a bus, weigh 2,500 pounds, and cost as much as $500 million.
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Each Capella satellite is about the size of a beach ball, weighs almost 100 pounds, and can produce black-and-white images at 1-meter resolution, about what youd get with the military models....if a truck drove across a dirt road at night. You will see that the ground was compacted maybe 1 or 2 millimeters, Banazadeh says. The path of that truck will light up superbright in the picture.
>

 

 

800x-1.jpg

 

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Unobscured Vision    2,678

And the floodgates open ... 

 

Not difficult to see how the SmallSat Revolution (could it be called anything but that?) wouldn't have an impact in the Mil/Gov sector. Technologies that used to require massive commitments of resources can now be done by pretty much anybody now. All they'd need to do it is access to space and a couple of Engineers.

 

Yeah, I know, I'm over-simplifying it. But not by much.

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DocM    16,615

It also turns SAR, optical and SBIRS observation into a small enough package they could be hosted on larger communications satellites.

 

Or, they could be hosted on thousands of medium size satellites in a constellation so widely dispersed they render ASAT missiles too little, too late.

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ramesees    348
11 minutes ago, DocM said:

It also turns SAR, optical and SBIRS observation into a small enough package they could be hosted on larger communications satellites.

 

Or, they could be hosted on thousands of medium size satellites in a constellation so widely dispersed they render ASAT missiles too little, too late.

Wonder if the new batch of satellites to be launched by Elon Musk will have these along with them ?

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DocM    16,615

Not just CommX but OneWeb and other medium to large sat constellations. Hosting DoD, NOAA or other 3-4 letter agency payloads could defray a lot of their deployment expense. This is already happening on the large commsats and other commercial birds. 

 

Other times, the smallsat rides along as a secondary payload which flies free, as F9 has previously launched for NRO, USAF and the US Army. Using the Spaceflight Inc. SHERPA tug 100+ smallsats can ride as secondary payloads, so long as there's enough energy margin.

Edited by DocM

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PGHammer    1,504
2 minutes ago, DocM said:

Not just CommX but OneWeb and other medium to large sat constellations. Hosting DoD, NOAA or other 3-4 letter agency payloads could defray a lot of their deployment expense.

Once again, tech improves to where the high-end and expensive becomes ubiquitous and relatively cheap (due to reduced cost - in this case, VASTLY reduced cost, in addition to size and other changes).

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DocM    16,615
42 minutes ago, PGHammer said:

Once again, tech improves to where the high-end and expensive becomes ubiquitous and relatively cheap (due to reduced cost - in this case, VASTLY reduced cost, in addition to size and other changes).

Yup. Just look at the Dove Earth imaging satellites.

 

A big, expensive camera hosted in GEO can watch the weather & climate or surface features with optical and multispectral cameras at a cost of $500-700 million and massing a few tonnes. NASA has to get involved, expensive launchers like Atlas V or Delta IV were used, etc. etc. Then, NOAA or NASA has to manage the satellites for their entire lifetime and manage de-orbiting or other retirement methods. $+$+$+$+$+$.

 

or

 

Agencies can (and are beginning to) buy imaging services from outfits like the Planet Labs Dove constellation in LEO, which can use an inexpensive launcher like F9 or PSLV for mass deployments - as in 80-90 at a time.  Planet Labs handles launch, deployment, management and obtaining the images. NOAA and other customers only need to receive, interpret and archive the images.

 

Door #2 is smarter.

 

Dove is 10x10x30 cm, masses under 5kg, costs about $2-3 million apiece and has a 3-5 meter optical resolution. Multi/hyper-spectral cameras for satellites like this are not much larger than a webcam, and they can even be equipped with ion propulsion for maneuvering and bringing them back down once they're retired..

 

yFfzMzY_d.jpg?maxwidth=640&shape=thumb&f

 

A shelf full of Doves waiting for launch day.

 

vertical-integration.jpg

 

Hyper-spectral camera for small & cubesats.

 

hyperspectral-cubesat1.jpg

Edited by DocM
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DocM    16,615

Planet Labs 5kg Dove satellites could deliver 3m resolution, but since their acquisition of Terra Bella from Google and its 100kg SkySat birds they can do 0.8m in the blue, green, red, near-IR and panchromatic bands. Video up to 50hz, up to 2 minutes.

 

NOAA, DoD, state & local govts., businesses, casual observers, etc.

 

https://www.planet.com

 

SkySat announcement

https://www.planet.com/pulse/hi-res-skysat-imagery-available-via-planet-api/

 

Dubai airport. Check the top-center, right center, upper right center for planes on the move.

 

 

 

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DocM    16,615

CRADA:  Cooperative Research And Development Agreement 

Quote


NGA Signs CRADA with Planet

SPRINGFIELD, Va. (NGA PR) — The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency signed a cooperative research and development agreement, April 4, with Planet, a commercial imagery provider, to explore and potentially improve the speed at which the agency can extract vital information and analytics from the company’s imagery.

The CRADA is expected to yield time-saving services for the agency related to change detection, such as monitoring objects across entire countries, advanced broad area search, and the generation of baseline and foundation layers, said Manuela McCabe, NGA’s Planet CRADA program manager.

“The Planet CRADA will fully inform NGA on the quality and utility of the services that Planet is able to develop and provide using their high-frequency imagery stacks,” said McCabe.

NGA purchased a $14 million subscription for Planet imagery in July 2017, following an introductory contract signed in 2016.

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