British aerospace and defence giant BAE Systems is set to unveil a satellite cluster later today.
The cluster, made up of four satellites, will be focused on earth observation, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and be rented out to businesses and allied governments alike.
Much like the smartphone, the satellites will be able to download different applications, such as alternative sensing and camera abilities, which are requested by the customer.
BAE System’s new satellite plans, which form part of its Azalea program, follows the acquisition of British satellite manufacturer In-Space last year and is the “culmination” of the firm’s expertise in security, head of space strategy Liz Seward told City A.M.
“A key part of the UK’s defence space strategy is to have a national earth observation capability so that’s definitely where our focus is. Supporting the UK customer,” she added. “Countries around the world are all stepping up their space commands. That’s really the driving force behind what we’re doing.
“The idea is with one cluster you cover the whole Earth every few days but if a customer wanted it to be much quicker than that we would be able to launch more clusters,” she explained, adding that with over 100 clusters of four satellites, customers could cover the entire Earth in just 15-minutes.
The London-listed defence firm has been leveraging space within its digital intelligence division.
“We’re talking to lots of potential customers but at the moment they’re still potentials,” Seward continued.
BAE Systems are currently finalising the design phase, and will start production in the UK and Finland in 2024, with plans to launch that same year.
Seward added that the cluster will probably be launched in the US on a SpaceX rideshare, “but future missions certainly could launch form the UK if the UK’s vertical launch rockets develop as we hope they will.”