skip to main content

UK issues tender for new electro-optical satellite

Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd's Carbonite+ satellite is one of a network of satellites that will form part of Minerva. Juno is the second confirmed satellite to join the constellation. (SSTL)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued a tender for the design and manufacture of an electro-optical (EO) satellite known as Juno under the Minerva programme.

Announced on 26 April, the GBP40 million (USD50 million) three-and-a-half-year project is seeking a high-resolution EO satellite for space-based intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) purposes that will eventually be integrated into the MoD's GBP970 million multisatellite constellation ISTARI programme.

Along with providing high-resolution EO imaging, it is envisaged that the satellite will be used as a research and development (R&D) vessel to demonstrate the utility of conducting space domain awareness (SDA) while in orbit. Juno will provide “space-to-space imagery to demonstrate characterisation capabilities against other [resident space objects] RSOs in different orbital regimes”, the announcement said.

This will be achieved either by using the primary EO payload for space-to-space image collection taskings or via a secondary hosted SDA payload. In turn, this project will support the Defence Space Strategy's direction towards improving detection, tracking, characterisation, and attribution of RSOs to provide an increased understanding of the domain and threats.

Other potential secondary mission applications and solutions were detailed in the announcement, including a radio frequency (RF) inter-satellite link that enables information sharing between space-based assets in geostationary orbit (GEO) and an onboard high-fidelity image processor integrated with machine learning image exploitation, which facilitates in-situ processing of captured imagery.

The supplier is expected to operate the Juno system until the ISTARI ground architecture is capable of operating the system, the announcement added.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...