Iceye synthetic aperture radar image of Crimean bridge (also called the Kerch Strait Bridge) that connects mainland Russia with Crimea. Credit: Iceye

SAN FRANCISCO – Within weeks, Iceye will transfer the full capability of one synthetic aperture radar satellite collecting imagery and data over Ukraine plus access to other satellites in its constellation to the Ukrainian government under a contract with a charitable organization.

Iceye announced an agreement Aug. 18 with the Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation, an organization established by a Ukrainian actor to provide drones, armored vehicles and humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian Armed Forces in response to the Russian invasion. In a statement, Prytula called the agreement with Iceye “a significant step in responding to the Government of Ukraine’s urgent request for critical Earth observation data and it will greatly benefit our Armed Forces.”

Iceye is working closely with the Ukrainian government to delivery the SAR service “in the coming weeks,” Iceye CEO Rafal Modrzewski told SpaceNews by email.

Iceye will continue to operate the SAR satellites and will provide the Ukrainian Armed Forces with frequently updated satellite imagery on critical locations, according to the news release.

“With this agreement, Iceye further builds on its efforts to provide objective data and technological support to Ukraine,” Modrzewski said in a statement. “We firmly believe SAR technology and its capabilities will continue to add significant value to the Government of Ukraine, now enabled by the work of the Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation.”

SAR satellites, which gather imagery during the day, at night and in all weather conditions, have been a particularly valuable tool in a war that began in Eastern Europe in February.

Iceye has launched 21 satellites since the company was founded in 2014. Not all of the spacecraft remain in operation, but the company doesn’t disclose exactly which satellites are still gathering data. Still, Iceye claims to operate the world’s largest constellation of SAR satellites.

Iceye customers include organizations like the Ukrainian government seeking access to the full capability of a SAR satellite and customers who prefer to send tasking orders to be filled by any satellite in Iceye’s constellation.

“It is very dependent on the requirements of the particular country,” Pekka Laurila, Iceye chief strategy officer, said by email. “Sovereign control of satellites and their operations can be very meaningful for some governments, but there are differences. Others prefer to ensure effectiveness through managed spacecraft operations together with Iceye. Ultimately, what practically all share is a need for having reliable access to information exactly when they need it.”

In early March, Iceye announced on Twitter that the company was “saddened by the war in Ukraine” and “cooperating with the relevant government authorities” to provide assistance.

Debra Werner is a correspondent for SpaceNews based in San Francisco. Debra earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. She...