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Message from ke6qis

Comments from ke6qis:  sstl to launch more sats. (non ham)

This article was forwarded to you from space.com -- http://www.space.com

British firm offers disaster-monitoring spacecraft

 An English satellite developer plans to launch a constellation of five 
satellites in early 2002 devoted to monitoring natural and human-made 
disasters from orbit. Surrey Small Satellite Technology (SSTL) hopes to use 
the new network to facilitate management and relief efforts in crisis 
situations ranging from civil strife and industrial accidents to droughts, 
earthquakes, fires and landslides. Unlike multipurpose Earth-observing 
satellites that have monitored mishaps in the past, SSTL's satellite fleet 
will be solely dedicated to disaster observation.

The Disaster Monitoring Constellation will be able to monitor any point on 
Earth at least once a day.

Equipped with photo-cameras, the Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) will 
be capable of monitoring any point on Earth at least once daily for use by 
emergency-aid agencies to assess the damage and to plan rescue efforts.

SSTL will build the system as a commercial enterprise, where different 
participants will share the expense of deploying and maintaining the network. 
The company estimates the cost of the entire system at $40 million.

So far, the British government has agreed to fund one spacecraft, and recently 
Algeria bought another, said Audrey Nice, SSTL spokesperson.

"We are talking to Nigeria, Thailand and China," Nice said.

Along with the satellites, SSTL promised to offer users access to 
ground-control stations and a centralized mission planning system. The company 
expects all participants the share the resources of the system in cases of 
U.N.-declared disasters. 

 Each of the five pyramid-shaped spacecraft weighs only about 40 pounds (80 
kilograms) and SSTL plans to haul the entire constellation into orbit in a 
single launch. The company has yet to choose the rocket to do the job, and at 
present is considering Russian, Chinese, Indian and U.S. boosters.

"[Our] decision will be based on the best possible launch opportunity at the 
best possible price," Nice said. The last SSTL-produced spacecraft, Tiungsat 
1, was launched for a Malaysian customer on Tuesday atop a Russian Dnepr 1 

The pyramid-shaped satellites will be launched in the same rocket.

The disaster-monitoring spacecraft will be inserted into circular 425-mile 
(686-kilometer) polar orbits. Thanks to Earth's rotation under the satellites, 
each spacecraft will revisit the same region over the planet at least once 
every 24 hours.

Each satellite's camera will have a resolution of 118 feet (36 meters); enough 
to conduct agricultural monitoring, hydrological mapping and assess damage 
known as hazard mapping. Such information will be used to monitor and possibly 
plan refugee movement, camp establishment and large-scale aid activities.

Each satellite will have a life expectancy of about five years. The 
architecture of the satellite allows the installation of additional cargo to 
the satellite's primary-imaging payload. Finally, the computers on the 
satellites could be reprogrammed in flight as more advanced software becomes 
available. If additional customers express interest in the system after the 
original network has been deployed, a follow-on constellation will be 
developed and launched, SSTL representative said.


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