The three-satellite deal required high-level government approval from both countries, and was part of the £1.4bn of trade agreements signed between premiers David Cameron and Wen Jiabao during their summit on Monday of this week. It will cost £110m to build, launch and insure these space-based imaging platforms, which will be leased to 21AT over a seven-year period rather than an outright purchase. DMCii has previous experience in China, having launched and managed the Beijing-1 satellite since 2005.
These space-based platforms are a new satellite design that builds off of the existing SSTL-300 satellite design used on NigeriaSat-2. Each will be roughly 350kg in mass and will deploy high-resolution cameras that deliver 1m/pixel resolution panchromatic and 4m/pixel resolution color imagery. They will also contain a broad-swath imager that will collect wide strips of the earth at resolutions of roughly 20m.
The combined satellite constellation is named DMC3, and with it’s coverage it will be able to revisit a given area daily, a capability that is important for change detection, disaster monitoring and response planning, and for acquiring cloud-free imagery. Much of the capacity of these satellites is aimed at monitoring and tracking the rapid urban development that is taking place in China.
DMCii is hopeful that the there will be at least one additional satellite added to the constellation before the end of the seven-year lease arrangement. Given the rapid pace of growth, and of global change, the wide uses for this data is likely to increase demand.