A Creotech Instruments’ render of three PIAS nanosatellites in orbit

WARSAW, Poland — Under the recently launched Polish Imaging Satellites (PIAST) project, a consortium formed by local space industry players will develop three nanosatellites to be operated by the country’s armed forces and placed into orbit in 2024.

As part of the consortium, Poland’s leading privately-owned space industry player Creotech Instruments was commissioned to build the three nanosats in cooperation with the project’s leader, the country’s Military University of Technology (WAT). Owing to PIAST, Poland’s Armed Forces are to be provided with an Earth observation constellation capable of acquiring roughly 5-meter-resolution imagery.

Grzegorz Brona, the chairman of the board at Creotech Instruments, told SpaceNews that the three nanosats will be based on the company’s flagship HyperSat standard which was initially developed for the microsatellite market, with spacecraft of between 10 and 120 kilograms in mind.

New standard introduces safety measures

“We began to develop this platform back in 2017, and it currently has a technology readiness level of six to seven. HyperSat introduces a number of safety solutions, it’s based on the SpaceVPX standard. It is highly modular and comfortable in terms of fitting satellites with electronics, and ensures full resonance,” Brona said.

Creotech Instruments started work on the PIAST project in June, and more details on the initiative’s technical details are expected to emerge once the consortium completes its mission definition review this autumn, according to the executive.

“Once this review is completed, and the Military University of Technology identifies an orbit for PIAST, a procedure to contract launch services for these nanosatellites could begin later this year. The launch will most likely take place in the second half of 2024,” Brona said.

The three spacecraft, which are to be fitted with a weight of 10 kilograms each, will be the first satellites to be operated by the Polish military.

The project is worth more than 70 million Polish zloty ($18 million), of which about 40 percent will be allocated to Creotech Instruments to finance its share of the work. Funds for the PIAST project are provided by the National Center for Research and Development, a state-run agency that finances a wide range of research and development work in Poland with the use of funds acquired from the European Union and the Polish budget.

“The HyperSat platform ensures full cooperation with both chemical propulsion systems, such as the one used in the PIAST nanosatellites, and ion thrusters such as the ones that will be used in our second satellite project under development, EagleEye,” he said.

The EagleEye microsatellite has a launch scheduled for 2023 and negotiations with prospective launch services providers are underway.

In addition to Creotech Instruments and the WAT, other entities that take part in the PIAST project include Poland’s leading state-owned defense company Polish Defence Group, the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences, private space industry company Scanway, and Poland’s Łukasiewicz Research Network – Institute of Aviation.

Foreign expansion plans

Meanwhile, Creotech Instruments is also making efforts to develop its international presence, with a number of European projects in the pipeline, Brona said.

“We’re holding talks with numerous foreign partners, and we already cooperate on various projects with key global space industry players such as Airbus, Thales, Maxar or Iceye. We’re also collaborating with the European Space Agency on the PROBA-3 satellite precursor mission and the Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer mission,” he said.

At the same time, the company is spearheading plans to become Poland’s first space company to be listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange. Creotech Instruments aims to debut on the exchange’s NewConnect index in October, according to Brona.

Jarosław Adamowski is a Warsaw, Poland-based correspondent for SpaceNews. He has written for Defense News, the Guardian, the Independent, the Jerusalem Post, and the Prague Post.