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UK Space Command's first satellite set to launch by July

UK Space Command's debut satellite will hitch a ride on SpaceX's Transporter-11 Rideshare mission, a Falcon 9 rocket launching multiple small satellites. Pictured is a model of Tyche displayed at DSEI 2023. (Janes/Olivia Savage)

UK Space Command's first satellite – Tyche – will be launched by July 2024, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on 21 May.

The spacecraft, built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL), will launch onboard the SpaceX Transporter-11 Rideshare mission from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in the US.

Tyche is a 150 kg research and development (R&D) concept demonstrator spacecraft, based on the company's Carbonite family of electro-optical (EO) satellites, which was initially scheduled to launch in 2023.

Maintaining a 500 km low Earth orbit (LEO), the satellite will use water to manoeuvre in space, the announcement detailed.

Tyche is one of the concept demonstrators being built under project Minerva, which aims to test and demonstrate the various technologies that will underpin the future GBP970 million (USD1.23 billion) ISTARI multisatellite intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) constellation.

Commodore Dave Moody, head of Space Capability at UK Space Command, told Janes in 2023that Tyche's primary purpose was delivering representative data to UK Space Command so that it can learn how best to use the information for defence and security, dual-use, or other purposes that may evolve.

However, in this latest announcement, the MoD describes Tyche as the “first of the ISTARI multisatellite system”. The MoD did not clarify to Janes whether the satellite is still intended as an R&D demonstrator or will now be the first operational satellite under the ISTARI constellation.

For more information on Minerva and ISTARI, please see

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