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UK test satellite set for launch in 2024

SSTL was awarded a contract in January 2022 to deliver a satellite for project Minerva. A total of GBP127 million is being invested in the Minerva programme over a four-year period, ensuring the UK has the processing power, radio frequencies, imaging capabilities, and data streams to deliver timely intelligence. (SSTL)

A UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) test satellite – Project Tyche – will launch in 2024 as part of project Minerva, the Head of Space Capability at UK Space Command, Commodore Dave Moody, told Janes on 25 May.

Tyche is a 150 kg research and development (R&D) concept demonstrator satellite being built by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) for project Minerva under a GBP22 million (USD27.3 million) contract. The system, initially scheduled to launch in 2023, is based on the company's Carbonite family of electro-optical (EO) satellites.

Tyche will be the first in a network of satellites being built under project Minerva, with an invitation to tender issued in April 2023 for the design and manufacture of an EO satellite called Juno. A total of GBP40 million was earmarked for the three-and-a-half-year supporting project.

Project Minerva – an innovation operational concept demonstrator – is the foundation for the development of a network of satellites for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) purposes that will integrate space with land, air, sea, and cyber.

The two satellites – Tyche and Juno – are only part of the wider project. The most important aspect is the ‘Minerva Hub', Cdre Moody said, whichaims to inform the MoD about how best to exploit, process, and disseminate space-based data. This will subsequently advise the UK Defence Review, expected in the middle of the decade, he added.

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