UrtheCast, Beijing Space View Technology forge imagery distribution pact

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WASHINGTON — Canadian remote sensing company UrtheCast and Beijing Space View Technology have teamed up to offer imagery from each other’s satellites to their customers, the companies announced Dec. 4.

Through a new “strategic cooperation agreement,” UrtheCast gained distribution rights for imagery from Space View’s SuperView constellation, which today consists of two satellites, and SpaceView acquired distribution rights for imagery from Deimos-1 and Deimos-2.

The agreement helps fill a void created from the deterioration of an UrtheCast partnership with Russian rocket and spacecraft company Energia, which terminated an agreement to host UrtheCast cameras on the International Space Station at the end of 2016. Without Energia, UrtheCast is currently unable to offer new tasking for the Iris and Theia cameras at what the company considers an acceptable service level.

UrtheCast’s acquisition of Spanish company Deimos Imaging in 2015 made the two Deimos satellites an important bargaining tool in arranging the Space View partnership. In the company’s Dec. 4 statement, Deimos Imaging CEO Fabrizio Pirondini said the agreement “confirms the importance of partnerships and alliances with other stakeholders to provide our customers with fast, ready to use solutions tailored to their needs.”

Deimos Imaging spokesperson Ana Isabel Martínez, told SpaceNews that the combined constellations can achieve revisit rates of approximately 17 times a week for mid-latitude locations.

“Space View will soon launch two more SuperView satellites at the end of December 2017, significantly increasing this capability,” she added.

Space View CEO Lily Xu praised the partnership as one that helps expand the company’s international reach.

“Together with Urthecast’s Earth Observation company, Deimos Imaging, I fully believe our combined experience, history and future strategic ambitions align to support both our upcoming constellations,” she said in a prepared statement. 

SpaceView’s constellation, called “16+4+4+X,” is projected to comprise 16 satellites with 50-centimeter panchromatic and 2-meter monochromatic resolution, paired with four higher resolution satellites, four synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites, and a fleet of satellites with video and hyperspectral cameras. The company also has distribution rights for China’s GF, ZY and HJ satellites.

UrtheCast is preparing a constellation called OptiSAR comprised of eight multispectral optical satellites each paired with a SAR satellite. The company has a “binding build commitment agreement” with British satellite manufacturer Surrey Satellite Technology Limited for UrtheDaily, another constellation designed to image the entire world’s landmass everyday. Originally planned to be eight satellites, UrtheCast no longer confirms what the number will be, but says UrtheDaily is scheduled to launch in 2020.