A new wave of UK-built microsatellites have successfully launched from Northern Russia this morning.

The Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) is the first satellite cluster dedicated to monitoring disasters from space and will provide more frequent and reliable images to relief agencies. Three 100 kg satellites were launched on September 27, joining AlSAT-1, the first DMC satellite launched for Algeria last November.

The satellites have been developed by UK firm Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL).  When the full constellation is in place, it will be able to provide daily imaging of anywhere in the world, enabling frequent return passes over the same site for rapid updates or to obtain information if cloud cover has hampered first attempts. This cannot be achieved by a single satellite, and the expensive, large individual satellites currently in orbit can take several days to revisit a certain area.

The DMC has been supported by the British National Space Centre (BNSC) MicroSatellite Applications in Collaboration (MOSAIC) programme, which has given financial assistance to small satellite programmes.

Science Minister Lord Sainsbury, who launched the scheme, said

“DMC will be an important tool to help limit the effects of both man-made and natural disasters worldwide.  By providing near real-time images, it will inform and improve relief efforts, enabling aid agencies to target critical assistance to those in need.

The Government seeks to support UK excellence in science and engineering.  This project is an example of the outstanding results that can be achieved. We should be proud of the initiative and world-class capabilities that Surrey Satellite Technology Limited has shown in driving the development of this project.”