BAE To Market German Radar Satellite Data to U.S. Government
BERLIN — BAE Systems Intelligence and Security will market data from Germany’s TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X radar satellites to the U.S. government under an alliance with the satellites’ owner, Airbus Defence and Space, the two companies announced May 20.
The agreement extends to certain commercial and international customers, they said.
Airbus’ Geo-Intelligence, Communication, Intelligence and Security division sells optical and radar satellite data worldwide from a constellation of spacecraft including the two radar spacecraft. A third radar satellite, the Airbus-built Paz owned by the Spanish government, will become in effect a third radar sensor in orbit when it becomes operational.
Paz is tentatively scheduled for launch late this year aboard a Russian-Ukrainian Dnepr converted silo-launched ballistic missile.
Vark Helfritz, director of market and corporate development at Airbus’ Geo-Intelligence division, said during the Berlin Air Show that Airbus and BAE bring complementary assets to the partnership.
BAE Systems has a long relationship with the U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which is the principal U.S. government buyer of commercial satellite data. BAE Systems provides software integration and other services. Airbus has the global satellite network to furnish the data.
Despite U.S. defense spending cutbacks, the U.S. government remains the world’s single largest buyer of commercial radar satellite imagery and shows no sign of pulling back demand, according to MDA Corp. of Canada, which through its Radarsat division competes with Airbus for U.S. government business. Italy’s e-Geos is a third radar satellite data provider to the U.S. government.
TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X were launched in June 2007 and June 2010, respectively, with service lives estimated at five years each. Airbus and the German Aerospace Center, DLR, jointly developed the two radar satellites, with Airbus granted exclusive commercial use of the data.
Helfritz said a recent analysis by DLR has concluded that the two spacecraft will be able to operate well beyond 2018, likely into 2020, assuring several years of overlap with Paz.
Follow Peter on Twitter: @pbdes