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Rafael promotes new dual-payload LiteSat

Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems has developed a dual payload version of its LiteSat microsatellite that can carry a synthetic radar aperture (SAR) as well as an electro-optical camera.

β€œThis is a new configuration,” Ariel Karo, executive vice president of Marketing and Business Development at Rafael, told Janes after the product was announced at the Dubai Airshow in November. β€œIt's a capability that has so far not existed. It has attracted very big interest.”

The standard LiteSat weighs 100 kg and has a small cross-section to reduce drag, enabling several to be put into a low orbit with every space launch to build a comparatively low-cost constellation of Earth-observation satellites. Rafael says the camera has a 50 cm resolution at an altitude of 400 km.

The new dual payload adds 30–50% more mass to the LiteSat, the precise increase being largely determined by the size of the SAR antenna, which has to be adapted to the satellite launch vehicle that carries it into orbit.

While the increased size and weight of the dual-payload LiteSat will make constellations more expensive to establish and maintain, the SAR will enable the satellite to monitor locations of interest at night and through cloud clover. This could provide round-the-clock coverage of targets regardless of weather conditions if the constellation has enough satellites.

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