UK Carbonite-2 illustrates small sat imaging capabilties
CARBONITE-2, flight ready December 2017
Credit: SSTL/Beaucroft Photography
The United Kingdom (UK) Royal Air Force this week announced its participation in the launch and operation of an imaging small sat. For an investment of 4.5 million pounds eight months ago, the RAF and UK Ministry of Defense (MOD) -- along with the rest of us -- are getting insight into how easy it is to put eyes into the sky.
Carbonite-2 was built by Surry Satellite Technologies. Weighing in at 100 kilograms and roughly the size of a household washing machine, the satellite carries an off-the-shelf telescope and HD video camera adapted for the space environment. The imaging system delivers high-resolution images and color HD video clips with a swath with of 5 kilometers and resolution of around 1 meter. It is likely the RAF/MOD funds do NOT cover the full costs of construction, launch, and services, but are a purchase of services.
Launched on January 12, 2018, Carbonite-2's design will be used for the Earth-i Vivid-i satellite constellation. Vivid-i will be an initial 15 satellite constellation, with satellites launched in batches of 5 at a time.
The RAF and MOD are interested in both sides of the imaging equation. What can the rest of the world see from space? A constellation of satellites can provide friends and foes rapid information in areas of conflict.