BAE Systems is set to launch its first multi-sensor satellite cluster into low Earth orbit in 2024, with the promise of high-quality information and intelligence in real time for space to military customers.

Named Azalea, the group of satellites will use a range of sensors to collect visual, radar and radio frequency (RF) data.

This will be analysed on board to deliver the data in real time anywhere in the world, boosting the UK’s ability to understand the threats and hazards in space.

Space partnerships

The programme is supported by In-Space Missions, which was acquired by BAE Systems last year.

The company is working with Finnish firm, ICEYE, to combine its own expertise in sensor technology with ICEYE’s advanced SAR technology to be included in the cluster.

SAR provides high-resolution imagery of the Earth’s surface, day or night and in any weather conditions. This persistent monitoring makes it easier to detect instant physical changes, such as the movement of hostile ships or aircraft or the location of people at risk during natural disasters, such as floods and forest fires.

Swathes of digital intelligence

Dave Armstrong, group managing director of BAE Systems’ Digital Intelligence business, said: “The Azalea satellite cluster will process data in space to provide swathes of digital intelligence wherever it’s needed.

“We understand how important space-based intelligence is to every domain, whether that’s informing strategic command, alerting an in area warship, or providing real-time intelligence to forces on the ground. The launch of Azalea in 2024 will be a major step forward for the UK’s sovereign space capability.

Doug Liddle, chief executive and co-founder of In-Space Missions, said: “We’re working together to create a step-change in military intelligence and capabilities. Our technology will monitor adversaries, but will also provide substantial civil benefits by helping humanitarian response missions.”
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