WASHINGTON — Satellite Earth observation company UrtheCast continues to stitch together what it calls a “virtual constellation” with a new partnership to distribute imagery from SI Imaging Service’s Kompsat fleet.
The two satellite operators agreed to mutual distribution of their products — Canada-based UrtheCast’s imagery from the Deimos-1 and 2 satellites and South Korea-based SI Imaging Service’s four Korean Multi-Purpose Satellites (Kompsats) — on a global basis, according to a Dec. 21 press release.
The partnership follows a similar arrangement UrtheCast made earlier this month for mutual distribution with Beijing Space View Technology’s SuperView constellation. UrtheCast also processes and distributes imagery from 13 sensors for the PanGeo Alliance.
UrtheCast’s ability to strike up sharing partnerships helps cover for two cameras no longer in use on the International Space Station due to a disagreement with their host, Energia of Russia. The partnerships also provide additional resources ahead of the launch of UrtheCast’s OptiSAR constellation of eight optical and eight synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites, and the unquantified UrtheDaily optical system. UrtheCast expects to have both the first two OptiSAR satellites in orbit and the UrtheDaily constellation operational by 2020.
The Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) operates the Kompsat fleet — Kompsat-2, Kompsat-3, Kompsat-3A and Kompsat-5 — and SIIS has rights to share imagery. KARI’s next Kompsat satellite, the sub-meter SAR Kompsat-6, is scheduled to launch in 2020 on an Angara 1.2 rocket through International Launch Services. Another satellite, the 30-centimeter optical resolution Kompsat-7, is projected to launch in 2021.
The Deimos and Kompsat satellites together enable optical and X-band SAR observations with resolutions ranging from 22 meters to 0.4 meters per pixel. The Kompsat-5 SAR satellite’s ability to see through clouds and without sunlight provides extended coverage when optical satellites can’t be used.