In a remarkable example of international collaboration in space, seven
organisations from Africa, Asia and Europe have formed a consortium
and agreed to contribute microsatellites into the first dedicated
Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC). The DMC will comprise seven
Earth observation microsatellites launched into low Earth orbit to
provide daily imaging revisit anywhere in the world.

The DMC Consortium comprises a partnership between organisations in
Algeria, China, Nigeria, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam and the United
Kingdom. Each organisation is building an advanced yet low-cost
Earth observation microsatellite to form the first ever constellation
specifically designed and dedicated to monitoring natural and
man-made disasters. The first DMC microsatellite is scheduled to be
launched for Algeria in September 2002 and subsequent microsatellites
into the same orbit in 2003 & 2004.

The objective of the Consortium is to derive the maximum mutual
benefit from the constellation through collaboration and cooperation
between the DMC Partners. The partners in the DMC Consortium agreed
to exchange their DMC satellite resources and data to achieve a
daily Earth observation imaging capability for disaster monitoring
and other dynamic phenomena.

The second meeting of the DMC partners was held during 22-23 April
2002. The meeting was hosted by Centre National des Techniques
Spatiales in Algiers, and was formally opened by Algeria’s
Secretary-General of Higher Education and Scientific Research and
attended by the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs.

The DMC partner organisations are:

  • Centre National Techniques Spatiales (Algeria)
  • Ministry of Science & Technology (PR China)
  • National Space Research & Development Agency (Nigeria)
  • TUBITAK-ODTU (Turkey)
  • Mahanakorn University of Technology, Bangkok (Thailand)
  • National Centre for Science & Technology (Vietnam)
  • British National Space Centre (UK)
  • Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (UK)

Notes for Editors:

The DMC will enable the monitoring of any rapidly-changing phenomena
by providing daily revisit multispectral imaging worldwide at
resolutions from 32-metres multispectral down to 4-metres
panchromatic. Current Earth observation satellites offer only
infrequent image revisits and the delivery of critical information
may take months due to periodic cloud cover and tasking conflicts.
Images of disaster-stricken areas are often made available too late
to be of real use to relief co-ordination agencies on the ground.
The processed images from the DMC will be distributed to relief
teams by the Reuters AlterNet Foundation. The Reuters Foundation
launched AlertNet in 1997 to help the work of relief professionals
around the world.

Each year natural and man-made disasters around the world cause
devastation, loss of life, widespread human suffering and huge
economic losses. The DMC will provide a service that will greatly
aid the response, management and mitigation of disasters whenever,
and wherever, they occur.

The DMC is an international project proposed and led by SSTL at
the Surrey Space Centre, which has developed highly capable
microsatellites that provide high quality multispectral imaging
at a small fraction of the cost of a conventional satellite, thus
making the constellation and this humanitarian service both
practicable and affordable.

Six of the seven microsatellites for the DMC are being constructed
at SSTL in the UK. The first satellite of the constellation, AlSAT-1
for Algeria, has been manufactured and is currently undergoing tests
in preparation for a planned launch in September 2002. Construction
of BILSAT-1 (Turkey) is also underway at SSTL, along with the UK-DMC
microsatellite funded through the BNSC. NigeriaSat-1 will commence
assembly in May. The satellites for Algeria, Turkey and Nigeria are
being built under a Know-How Transfer and Training (KHTT) programme
at Surrey. The seventh microsatellite (Thai-Paht2) is being built at
the Mahanakorn University of Technology (MUT) in Bangkok, Thailand.
This follows MUTÕs successful KHTT programme with Surrey and the
launch of their first microsatellite (Thai-Paht-1) in 1998. The
Chinese and Vietnamese satellites are in the final stages of contract
negotiation with SSTL and both are planned to be built at Surrey.