ICEYE Constellation of SAR X-band microsatellites
The commercial Earth Observation company ICEYE Ltd. of Espoo, Finland developed and built the ICEYE-X2 spacecraft with a SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) instrument suitable for a microsatellite. ICEYE-X2 features a range of technology improvements to increase the versatility and quality of the imaging data compared to ICEYE-X1. The improvements relate to items such as component choices, subsystem interfaces, software code, operations procedures, communication links, and optimization of power management. ICEYE-X2 possesses various imaging modes to provide imagery at high resolution and alternatively with a very wide swath to support different types of use cases. 1) 2)
Spacecraft and sensor complement
The ICEYE constellation will consist of approximately 18 operational X-band SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) small satellites. In the creation of this new resource we wanted to bring a new service to the market with an emphasis on superior reliability, a vastly higher rate of revisits to individual locations, and on objectivity. The service is based on completely new satellite and sensor design, leveraging recent advancement of various technologies and a New Space approach.
ICEYE SAR satellites, each with a mass of 85 kg, are side-looking X-band SAR sensors utilizing active phased array antenna (electronically steerable) technology. It is both right- and left-looking and capable of acquiring satellite imagery of Earth using stripmap, spotlight and ScanSAR imaging modes. ICEYE-X2, a typical representative instrument of the ICEYE constellation (Figure 1), is currently located on a sun-synchronous polar orbit with 17 days of ground track repeat cycle with 15 imaging orbits per day. Table 1 lists system and orbital parameters of presently available SAR instruments.
Table 1: System parameters of ICEYE sensors
ICEYE imaging modes
ICEYE satellites collect SAR images in several standard imaging modes. ICEYE’s satellites are capable of imaging in Stripmap, Spotlight and ScanSAR modes, with Stripmap and Spotlight imagery operationally available for acquisition worldwide. Notably, all imaging beam modes are available in both right- and left-looking configuration. Further, we describe the available imaging modes, and their radiometric and geometric characteristics.
Stripmap imaging mode
In Stripmap mode, the ground swath is illuminated with a continuous sequence of pulses while the antenna beam is fixed in elevation and azimuth. This results in an image strip with a continuous image quality in the flight direction.
Figure 2: Schematic of the stripmap imaging mode (image credit: ICEYE)
Spotlight imaging mode
In Spotlight mode, mechanical antenna steering in the azimuth direction is used to increase the illumination time, resulting in an increased synthetic aperture and, therefore, better azimuth resolution compared to a continuous stripmap mode.
Figure 3: Schematic of the Spotlight imaging mode (image credit: ICEYE)
ScanSAR imaging mode
In ScanSAR mode, electronic antenna elevation steering is used to switch after bursts of pulses between swathes with different incidence angles. Due to the switching between the beams, only bursts of SAR echoes are received, resulting in a reduced azimuth bandwidth and hence, reduced azimuth resolution.
To obtain a more homogeneous radiometry and noise floor over the access range, each ICEYE ScanSAR beam will have an individual transmitted chirp range bandwidth which decreases with increasing incidence angle. The bandwidth is selected to achieve a targeted constant ground range resolution in the complex single look data. For detected products, multi-looking will be applied independently to each beam before merging into a combined swath.
ScanSAR is currently under development.
Figure 4: Schematic of the ScanSAR imaging mode (image credit: ICEYE)
Table 2: ICEYE imaging modes summary
Definitions: AASR (Azimuth Ambiguity to Signal Ratio); RASR (Range Ambiguity to Signal Ratio); SLC (Single Look Complex); GRD (Ground Range Detected).
ICEYE mission launches
Launch: The two ICEYE-X2 microsatellites were launched on the SSO-A rideshare mission of Spaceflight, on 3 December 2018 (18:34:05 GMT) on a SpaceX Falcon-9 Block 5 vehicle from VAFB (Vandenberg Air Force Base) in California. 3) 4) 5)
Figure 5: A Falcon 9 rocket lifts off on 3 December 2018 (18:34 GMT) from Space Launch Complex 4-East at Vandenberg Air Force Base, CA (image credit: SpaceX)
Orbit: Sun-synchronous circular orbit with an altitude of 570 km, inclination of 97.7º, LTDN (Local Time of Descending Node) of 10:30 hours, repeat cycle of 17 days.
Figure 6: Artist’s illustration of the SSO-A mission’s free flyers separating from the upper stage of SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket (image credit: Spaceflight)
Figure 7: SSO-A mission animation of the spacecraft deployments (video credit: Spaceflight Industries)
List of payloads on the Spaceflight SSO-A rideshare mission
The layout of the list follows the alphabetical order of missions as presented on the Wikipedia page ”2018 in spaceflight” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_in_spaceflight#November — as well as with the help of Gunter Krebs's short descriptions at https://space.skyrocket.de/doc_sdat/skysat-3.htm
This mission enabled 34 organizations from 17 different countries to place spacecraft on orbit. It’s also special because it was completely dedicated to smallsats. Spaceflight launched 15 microsatellite and 49 CubeSats from government and commercial entities including universities, startups, and even a middle school. The payloads vary from technology demonstrations and imaging satellites to educational research endeavors.
• AISTechSat-2, a 6U CubeSat for Earth observation of AISTech (Access to Intelligent Space Technologies), Barcelona, Spain.
• Al Farabi-2, a 3U CubeSat technology demonstration mission of the Al-Farabi Kazakh National University, Kazakhstan.
• Astrocast-0.1, a 3U CubeSat technology demonstration mission of Astrocast, Switzerland, dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT)
• Audacy-0, a 3U CubeSat technology demonstration mission of Audacy, Mountain View, CA, built by Clyde Space.
• BlackSky-2, a microsatellite (55 kg) of BlackSky Global (Seattle, WA) which will provide 1 m resolution imagery with improved geolocation accuracy.
• BRIO, a 3U CubeSat of SpaceQuest Ltd. of Fairfax, VA to test a novel communications protocol that uses SDR (Software Defined Radio).
• Capella-1, a microsatellite (37 kg) of Capella Space, San Francisco, CA featuring a X-band SAR (Synthetic Aperture) payload.
• Centauri-1, a 3U CubeSat of Fleet Space Technologies, Adelaide, South Australia. Demonstration of IoT technologies.
• CSIM-FD (Compact Spectral Irradiance Monitor-Flight Demonstration), a 6U CubeSat of LASP (Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics) at the University of Boulder, CO, USA. The goal is to measure solar spectral irradiance to understand how solar variability impacts the Earth’s climate and to validate climate model sensitivity to spectrally varying solar forcing.
• Eaglet-1, the first 3U CubeSat (5 kg) of OHB Italia SpA for Earth Observation.
• Elysium Star-2, a 1U CubeSat of Elysium Space providing space burial services.
• ESEO (European Student Earth Orbiter) sponsored by ESA, a microsatellite of ~40 kg with 6 instruments aboard.
• Eu:CROPIS (Euglena and Combined Regenerative Organic-Food Production in Space), a minisatellite (230 kg) of DLR, Germany. The objective is to study food production in space in support of future long-duration manned space missions (life sciences). The main payloads are two greenhouses, each maintained as a pressurized closed loop system, simulating the environmental conditions of the Moon or of Mars.
• eXCITe (eXperiment for Cellular Integration Technology), a DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) mission to demonstrate the 'satlets' technology. Satlets are a new low-cost, modular satellite architecture that can scale almost infinitely. Satlets are small modules that incorporate multiple essential satellite functions and share data, power and thermal management capabilities. Satlets physically aggregate in different combinations that would provide capabilities to accomplish diverse missions.Built by NovaWurks, eXCITE has a mass of 155 kg. eXCITE also carries the See Me (Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements), a prototype microsatellite (~22 kg) built by Raytheon for DARPA to obtain on-demand satellite imagery in a timely and persistent manner for pre-mission planning.
• ExseedSat-1, a 1U CubeSat mission by the Indian company Exseed Space. The goal is to provide a multifunction UHF/VHF NBFM (Narrow Band Frequency Modulation) amateur communication satellite.
• FalconSat-6, a minisatellite (181 kg) of the USAFA (U.S. Air Force Academy) and sponsored by AFRL. FalconSat-6 hosts a suite of five payloads to address key AFSPC (Air Force Space Command) needs: SSA (Space Situational Awareness) and the need to mature pervasive technologies such as propulsion, solar arrays, and low power communications.
• Flock-3, three 3U CubeSats (5 kg each) of Planet Labs to provide Earth observation.
• Fox-1C, a radio amateur and technology research 1U CubeSat developed by AMSAT and hosting several university developed payloads.
• HawkEye, a formation-flying cluster of three microsatellites (13.4 kg each) of HawkEye 360, Herndon, VA, USA. The goal is to demonstrate high-precision RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) geolocation technology monitoring.
• Hiber-1 and-2, these are 6U CubeSats, a pathfinder mission of Hiber Global, Noordwijk, The Netherlands, for Hiber Global's planned (IoT) communications CubeSat constellation.
• ICE-Cap (Integrated Communications Extension Capability), a 3U CubeSat of the US Navy. The objectives are to demonstrate a cross-link from LEO (Low Earth Orbit) to MUOS (Mobile User Objective System) WCDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access) in GEO (Geosynchronous Orbit). The objective is to send to users on secure networks.
• ICEYE-X2, two X-band SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) microsatellites (each ~ 80 kg) of Iceye Ltd, a commercial satellite startup company of Espoo, Finland.
• Irvine 02, a 1U CubeSat educational mission by the Irvine Public School Foundation, Irvine, CA. The Irvine CubeSat STEM Program (ICSP) is a multi-year endeavor that directly impacts over a hundred students from six high schools and two school districts.
• ITASAT-1 (Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica Satellite), a Brazilian 6U Cubesat (~8kg) built by the Instituto Tecnológico de Aeronáutica (ITA). A former rescoped microsatellite mission.
• JY1-Sat, a 1U CubeSat of Jordan developed by students of various universities. The satellite will carry a UHF/VHF amateur radio.
• KazSTSAT (Kazakh Science and Technology Satellite), a microsatellite (<100 kg) of Ghalam LLP, Astana, Kazakhstan. Developed by SSTL on a SSTL-50 platform including an SSTL EarthMapper payload designed for global commercial wide-area imaging with a resolution of 17.5 m on a swath of 250 km.
• KNACKSAT (KMUTNB Academic Challenge of Knowledge SATellite) of Thailand, a 1U technology demonstration CubeSat, the first entirely Thai-built satellite, developed by students of King Mongkut’s University of Technology North Bangkok (KMUTNB). Use of an amateur radio for communication.
• Landmapper-BC (Corvus BC 4), a 6U CubeSat (11 kg) of Astro Digital (formerly Aquila Space), Santa Clara, CA, USA. The satellite features a broad coverage multispectral (Red, Green, NIR) imaging system with a resolution of 22 m.
• MinXSS-2 (Miniature X-ray Solar Spectrometer-2), a 3U CubeSat(4 kg) of LASP (Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics) at the University of Colorado at Boulder,CO, USA. The objective is to study the energy distribution of solar flare SXR (Soft X-ray) emissions and its impact on the Earth’s ITM (Ionosphere, Thermosphere, and Mesosphere) layers.MinXSS-2 is a copy of the MinXSS-1 but with some improvements. — MinXSS-1 was launched on 06 December 2015 onboard of Cygnus CRS-4 to the ISS, were it was deployed into orbit on 16 May 2016. It reentered Earth's atmosphere on 6 May 2017.
• NEXTSat-1, a multi-purpose microsatellite (~100 kg) of Korea designed and developed at SaTReC (Satellite Technology Research Center) of KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology). The goal is to conduct scientific missions such as star formation and space storm measurements and also technology demonstration in space. Instruments: ISSS (Instrument for the Study of Space Storms) developed at KAIST to detect plasma densities and particle fluxes of 10 MeV energy range near the Earth. NISS (NIR Imaging Spectrometer for Star formation history), developed at KASI (Korean Astronomy and Space Science Institute).
• Orbital Reflector, a 3U CubeSat project (4 kg) of the Nevada Museum of Art and artist Trevor Paylon. The Orbital Reflector is a 30 m sculpture constructed of a lightweight material similar to Mylar. On deployment, the sculpture self-inflates like a balloon. Sunlight reflects onto the sculpture making it visible from Earth with the naked eye — like a slowly moving artificial star as bright as a star in the Big Dipper.
• ORS-7 (Operationally Responsive Space 7), two 6U CubeSats (-7A and -7B), named Kodiak and Yukon, in support of the USCG (US Coast Guard) as part of the Polar Scout mission and in cooperation with DHS (Department of Homeland Security), the ORS (Operationally Responsive Space Office) of DoD, and NOAA. The objective is to detect transmissions from EPIRBs (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons), which are carried on board vessels to broadcast their position if in distress.
• PW-Sat 2 (Politechnika Warszawska Satellite 2), a 2U CubeSat of the Institute of Radioelectronics at the Warsaw University of Technology, Warsaw, Poland. The objective is to demonstrate a deorbitation system - a drag parachute opened behind the satellite - which allows faster removal of satellites from their orbit after it completes its mission.
• RAAF-M1 (Royal Australian Air Force-M1), an Australian 3U CubeSat (~4 kg) designed and built by UNSW (University of New South Wales) for the Australian Defence Force Academy, Royal Australian Air Force. RAAF-M1 is a technology demonstration featuring an AIS receiver, and ADS-B receiver, an SDR (Software Defined Radio).
• RANGE-A and -B (Ranging And Nanosatellite Guidance Experiment), two 1.5 CubeSats of Georgia Tech (Georgia Institute of Technology), Atlanta, GA, USA, flying in a leader-follower formation with the goal of improving the relative and absolute positioning capabilities of nanosatellites.
• ROSE-1, a 6U CubeSat of Phase Four Inc., El Segundo, CA, USA. ROSE-1 is an experimental spacecraft designed to provide an orbital test-bed for the Phase Four RFT (Radio Frequency Thruster), the first plasma propulsion system to fly on a nanosatellite.
• SeaHawk-1, a 3U CubeSats of UNCW (University of North Carolina, Wilmington), NC. The goal is to measure the ocean color in project SOCON (Sustained Ocean Observation from Nanosatellites). SeaHawk is considered a prototype for a larger constellation. The SOCON project is a collaboration between Clyde Space Ltd (spacecraft bus), the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Cloudland Instruments, and NASA/GSFC (Goddard Space Flight Center).
• See Me (Space Enabled Effects for Military Engagements), a prototype microsatellite (~22 kg) built by Raytheon for DARPA to obtain on-demand satellite imagery in a timely and persistent manner for pre-mission planning.
• SkySat-14 and -15. Planet Labs of San Francisco has 13 SkySats in orbit. The commercial EO satellites were built by Terra Bella of Mountain View, CA, which Planet Labs acquired from Google last year. At the time of the purchase, there were 7 SkySats in orbit. On 31 October 2017, Planet launched an additional six on a Minotaur-C rocket. The 100 kg SkySats are capable of sub-meter resolution – making them the most powerful in the constellation. Customers can request to have these high-resolution satellites target their locations of interest.
• SNUGLITE, a 2U CubeSat designed by the SNU (Seoul National University) for technology demonstrations and amateur radio communication.
• SpaceBEE, four picosatellites of Swarm Technologies (a US start-up), built to the 0.25U form factor to make up a 1U CubeSat.
• STPSat-5 is a science technology minisatellite of the US DoD STP (Space Test Program), managed by the SMC of the USAF. STPSat-5 will carry a total of five technological or scientific payloads to LEO (Low Earth Orbit) in order to further the DoD’s understanding of the space environment. The satellite was built by SNC (Sierra Nevada Corporation) on the modular SN-50 bus with a payload capacity of 50-100 kg and compatible with ESPA-class secondary launch adaptors.
• THEA, a 3U CubeSat built by SpaceQuest, Ltd. of Fairfax, VA to demonstrate a spectrum survey payload developed by Aurora Insight, Washington DC. The objective is to qualify Aurora’s payload, consisting of a proprietary spectrometer and components, and demonstrate the generation of relevant measurements of the spectral environment (UHF, VHF, S-band). The results of the experiment will inform future development of advanced instrumentation by Aurora and component development by SpaceQuest.
• VESTA is a 3U CubeSat developed at SSTL in Guildford, UK. VESTA is a technology demonstration mission that will test a new two-way VHF Data Exchange System (VDES) payload for the exactEarth advanced maritime satellite constellation. Honeywell Aerospace is providing the payload. VESTA is a flagship project of the National Space Technology Program, funded by the UK Space Agency and managed by the Center for EO Instrumentation and Space Technology (CEOI-ST).
• VisionCube-1, a 2U CubeSat designed by the Korea Aerospace University (KAU) to perform research on Transient Luminous Events in the upper atmosphere. The image processing payload consists of a multi-anode photon multiplier tube(MaPMT), a camera, and a real-time image processing engine built by using SoC (System-on-Chip) FPGA technologies.
Spaceflight has contracted with 64 spacecraft from 34 different organizations for the mission to a Sun-Synchronous Low Earth Orbit. It includes 15 microsatellites and 49 CubeSats from both commercial and government entities, of which more than 25 are from international organizations from 17 countries, including United States, Australia, Italy, Netherlands, Finland, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, UK, Germany, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Thailand, Poland, Canada, Brazil, and India. 6)
Launch: The ICEYE-X3 mission was launched on 5 May 2019 as demonstration payload of York Space System's (Denver, CO) S-class satellite bus. Harbinger was launched on an Electron KS mission of Rocket Lab on the STP-27RD mission from New Zealand's Māhia Peninsula, sponsored by the U.S Army. The payloads on this mission included the ICEYE-X3, BridgeSat's optical communications payload and Enpulsion of Austria's Field Emission Electric Propulsion system.
Launch: The ICEYE-X4 and ICEYE-X5 satellites of ICEYE were launched as secondary payloads on a Soyuz-2-1b Fregat M rocket on 5 July 2019 (05:41 UTC) from the Vostochny Cosmodrome, Russia. The primary mission on this flight was the Meteor-M 2-2 satellite (2750 kg), a new generation meteorological mission of Russia, developed by VNIIEM and operated by Roskosmos. 7) 8)
Orbit: Sun-synchronous orbit, altitude = 832 km, inclination = 98.6º.
Secondary payloads (31 payloads, the rideshare mission was managed by Exolaunch)
• ICEYE-X4 and ICEYE-X4 SAR microsatellites of ICEYE Oy, Finland.
• Lemur-2 x 8 of Spire Global Inc., USA (8 3 U CubeSats)
• NSLSat-1, a 6U CubeSat of Clyde Space UK and NSLComm, Israel, Antenna deployment experiment, Ka-band communications experiment
• JAISAT-1, A Ham radio CubeSat, German Orbital Systems GmbH / Thai ham radio society
• EXOConnect, an experimental CubeSat of German Orbital Systems GmbH
• D-Star one, two experimental 3U CubeSats of German Orbital Systems GmbH
• Lucky-7, an experimental 1U CubeSat of SkyFox Labs, Czech Republic
• SEAM-2.0, a 3U CubeSat for Earth magnetic measurements of the Royal Technology Institute, Sweden
• MTCube (Robusta-1C), a 1U CubeSat for space radiation monitoring, Montpellier University, France
• SONATE, an experimental 3U CubeSat of the University of Würzburg, Germany
• BEESAT-9 to -13, five 1U CubeSats for orbital navigation and UHF intersatellite communications, Technical University of Berlin
• Move-2b, a 1U experimental CubeSat of the Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany
• TTU-100, a 1U CubeSat for X-band and optical communications, Technical University of Tallinn, Estonia
• Ecuador -UTE, a 3U CubeSat for space weather and ionospheric research, Ecuador Technical University, Ecuador
• DoT-1, a (Demonstration of Technology) microsatellite (18 kg) of SSTL, UK
• MKA Sokrat, a CubeSat for space weather monitoring, Skobeltsin NIIYaF MGU, Russia
• VDNKhA-80, a CubeSat for space weather monitoring, Skobeltsin NIIYaF MGU, Russia
• AmurSat (AmGU-1), a CubeSat for space weather monitoring, Amur State University, AmGU, Russia.
• CarboNIX, Technology demonstration payload to test a new “shock-free” payload deployment mechanism, Exolaunch, Berlin
Launch: The ICEYE-X6 and ICEYE-X7 microsatellites of ICEYE were launched as a secondary payloads on 28 September 2020 (11:20 UTC) on a Soyuz-2.1b/Fregat rideshare mission of Roskosmos from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome Site43/4 in Russia. The primary payload on this flight were three Gonets-M (No 27-29) civilian communication microsatellites with a total mass of ~840 kg. 9)
Figure 8: Launch photo of the 16th Gonets-M mission of primary payloads No 27, 28 and 29 plus 19 secondary payloads on a Soyuz-2-1b/Fregat vehicle from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia (image credit: Russian Spaceweb)
Orbit of primary payload: Gonets satellites are usually delivered into a 1,400 km orbit with an inclination 82.5º.
Orbit of secondary payloads: Sun-synchronous orbit, altitude of ~575-600 km and an inclination close to 97º.
A total of 19 small satellites were part of this rideshare mission, 15 CubeSats of which were managed and integrated by the services of Exolaunch of Berlin, Germany. Exolaunch uses ExoPods for the deployment of the CubeSats. 10) Exolaunch is a rideshare launch and deployment solution provider for small satellites. Its flight heritage includes the successful deployment of nearly 100 small satellites into orbit, in cooperation with launch vehicle providers worldwide. 11) Additionally, four small Russian satellites were also booked for the same mission. 12)
Figure 9: The Exolaunch Team on the Fregat upper stage (image credit Exolaunch)
• ICEYE-X6 and ICEYE-X7, two microsatellites of ICEYE, Finland.
• Kepler Communications. Two 6U CubeSats, built by UTIAS/SFL of Toronto, Canada. Both satellites are equipped with high-capacity Ku-band communications systems and Kepler’s internet-of-things (IoT) payload prototype. They will provide additional capacity for Kepler’s Global Data Service.
• LacunaSat-3, a 6U CubeSat (~10 kg), of Lacuna Space to provide IoT services. Spacecraft developer: NanoAvionis Corp. of Lithuania.
• Lemur-2, Four 3U CubeSats of Spire Global Inc., San Francisco, CA (provision of Earth observation). Two of the Spire nanosatellites have an onboard supercomputer and intelligent machine-learning algorithms that can provide hyper-accurate predictions of the locations of boats, track their whereabouts and calculate their arrival times at ports, allowing port businesses and authorities to manage busy docks safely. Two further Spire satellites launched alongside them, both of which will be used to forge inter-satellite links. These connections allow satellites to act as relays, sending data to one another and down to ground stations, which cuts the time between data collection and its delivery. - Made by Spire Global UK, the nanosatellites, which are some of the smartest satellites ever built in the UK, are backed by over £10 million of investment from the UK Space Agency. 13)
• MeznSat, a 3U CubeSat of Khalifa University / AURAK, UAE (United Arab Emirates), provision of Earth observation.
• NetSat, Four 3U CubeSats of ZfT (Zentrum für Telematik e.V.), Würzburg, Germany. Demonstration of self-organization of several satellites in three-dimensional space within the framework of a formation in orbit.
• SalSat (Spectrum AnaLysis Satellite), a 8U CubeSat (12 kg) of TUB (Technical University of Berlin). The objective is to analyze the global spectrum use of S-band and VHF, UHF amateur radio bands. This analysis is required due to the increasing number of users and the intensification of radio communication, which is leading to an escalating probability of interference between radio signals. It will analyze the global spectrum usage with SALSA, a spectrum analyzer payload based on a SDR (Software Defined Radio).
• Decartes, a satellite with an unkown mass of NIIYaF MGU, Russia.
• Norby, a 6U CubeSat of NGU (Novosibirsk State University), Russia.
• Yarilo, two 1.5 CubeSats of BMSTU (Bauman Moscow State Technical University) and the Lebedev Physical Institute, Moscow, Russia, developed for studying the solar activity within the X-ray range.
• January 25, 2021: Launch of ICEYE-X8, - X9 and -X10. ICEYE announced today the successful launch of three ICEYE SAR satellites on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 smallsat rideshare mission via EXOLAUNCH. This raises the total number of launched ICEYE missions to 10, including commercial and dedicated customer missions. Early operation procedures with all 3 spacecraft have been successfully finalized, and each satellite’s SAR instrument is currently going through commissioning. 14)
Figure 10: This photo shows the stack of 143 small satellites aboard SpaceX’s Transporter-1 mission before encapsulation inside the Falcon 9 rocket’s payload shroud (image credit: SpaceX)
- After commissioning these 3 new spacecraft, ICEYE operates the world’s largest, most agile SAR satellite constellation, providing global commercial access and persistent monitoring. ICEYE’s constellation is able to provide the world’s most reliable and frequent images of customers’ areas of interest, regardless of time of day, or weather conditions.
- “The successful launch of three ICEYE SAR satellites is an excellent start to 2021 and reinforces ICEYE’s unmatched capabilities in persistent monitoring. This is the beginning of a significant ramp up of spacecraft builds from our expanded facilities in Europe and a new manufacturing site in the U.S.,” said Jerry Welsh, CEO of ICEYE US. “The new U.S. site will be used to build and operate dedicated spacecraft providing ICEYE flexibility in supporting U.S. and global customers.”
- ICEYE empowers commercial and government partners with persistent monitoring of any location on Earth. The company helps customers make informed, data-driven decisions to address time-critical challenges in various industries and uses such as border security, flood monitoring and oil spill clean-up.
- “As ICEYE continues to expand its constellation of SAR satellites, it provides the opportunity to image more locations each day,” said Eric Jensen, President of ICEYE US. “Our customers receive dependable and frequent imaging that provides persistent monitoring of locations addressing time-critical needs. This reinforces ICEYE’s market-leading position in providing change detection applications.”
- The company raised $87 million in the Series C funding round last year, bringing its total fundraising to $152 million. At least another 8 ICEYE satellites are being manufactured for launch still within this year. Equipped with cloud-piercing radar sensors, the company’s satellites can image day or night and in all weather conditions at incredibly high resolutions.
• July 1, 2021: ICEYE announced today the successful launch of four ICEYE SAR satellites. They were launched into orbit on a SpaceX’s Falcon 9 smallsat rideshare mission via Exolaunch. Three satellites of the latest technology generation will be added to the ICEYE constellation after a commissioning phase. The fourth satellite of this launch will be operated as a demonstration mission for the company’s next-generation spacecraft. With this launch, ICEYE has successfully brought 14 satellites into orbit, including both commercial and dedicated customer missions. 15)
- With the launch of multiple satellites, ICEYE continues to grow and operate the world’s largest constellation of agile SAR satellites with the purpose of further developing and optimizing persistent monitoring capabilities. ICEYE’s constellation is designed to reliably provide imagery of customers’ areas of interest with a very short revisit time to enable the detection and tracking of rapid changes on the Earth’s surface, regardless of time of day, or weather conditions.
- “ICEYE provides the world’s leading persistent monitoring services based on data collected from orbit,” said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and Co-founder of ICEYE . “If you need to know what is happening in the world, ICEYE is your choice for persistent monitoring.”
- The launched next-generation demonstration mission is equipped with the newest SAR satellite technology from ICEYE, allowing new and innovative capabilities in SAR imaging. These improvements include a factor two improvement in ground resolution, and the capability to simultaneously image and downlink data for near-immediate data delivery.
- “The growth of ICEYE’s radar imaging satellite constellation is unprecedented, and as a result, our customers enjoy the most actionable set of capabilities in the world for persistent monitoring,” said Steve Young, Vice President of Business Development and Sales at ICEYE . “Not only the quantity, but also the consistent push for what’s possible with the latest technology keeps ICEYE at the forefront of radar satellite imaging.”
- ICEYE serves SAR data to a global customer base in three imaging modes: Spot, Strip, and Scan, each with optimized resolution and coverage, all the way to 10,000 km2 with individual acquisitions. ICEYE is set to announce further radar satellite data capabilities in July, with additional launches set for later in the year.
Figure 11: SpaceX Transporter-2 launch, 30 June 2021, carrying 4 ICEYE radar imaging satellites from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida. The deployment of the payload of 88 satellites started nearly 58 minutes after liftoff, once the upper stage performed a second burn of its engine to place it into a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of nearly 550 km (image credit: SpaceX via Exolaunch)
Mission & Development Status of the ICEYE-X Satellite Constellation
• October 12, 2021: ESA signed a contract that brings the ICEYE constellation of small satellites into the fleet of missions contributing to Europe’s Copernicus environmental monitoring program. As a commercial provider of satellite radar imagery, ICEYE is a perfect example of European New Space being implemented within Copernicus. 16) 17)
- With the contract signed during ESA’s Φ-week – an event which this year focuses on the New Space economy – the timing couldn’t have been more apt.
Figure 12: Signing up ICEYE to Copernicus. ESA has signed a contract that brings the ICEYE constellation of small satellites into the fleet of missions contributing to Europe’s Copernicus environmental monitoring program. As a commercial provider of satellite radar imagery, ICEYE is a perfect example of European New Space being implemented within Copernicus. The contract was signed by ESA’s Acting Director of Earth Observation Programs, Toni Tolker-Nielsen (right) and CEO of ICEYE, Rafal Modrzewski (left), in the presence of ESA’s Director General, Josef Aschbacher (image credit: ESA, V. Stefanelli)
- ESA’s Acting Head of Earth Observation Programs, Toni Tolker-Nielsen, said, “I am confident that ICEYE’s commercial constellation of small synthetic aperture radar satellites, with the objective of providing near-realtime monitoring capability of the globe, will make an excellent contribution to the Copernicus Emergency Monitoring Service and to the Copernicus Marine Environment Monitoring Service, for example.”
Figure 13: Copernicus Contributing Missions overview. In addition to data provided by the Sentinel satellites, the Copernicus Contributing Missions play a crucial role, delivering complementary data to ensure that a whole range of observational requirements is satisfied. The existing or planned Contributing Missions include missions from ESA, their Member States, commercial Very High Resolution (VHR) optical and radar mission operators, and other European and international third party mission operators that make some of their data available for Copernicus (image credit: ESA)
- While the suite of Sentinel missions that ESA develops and builds, and in many cases operates on behalf of the European Commission, are central to the European Union’s Copernicus program, there are different other commercial satellite missions that play a crucial role in delivering complementary very high-resolution Earth observation data to answer to the data needs of the Copernicus Services and public authorities.
- ESA’s responsibility here includes coordinating all the Copernicus Contributing Mission activities as part of the Copernicus program on behalf of the European Commission.
- ICEYE builds and operates a commercial constellation of small synthetic aperture radar satellites. So far, 14 satellites have been launched and ICEYE plans to expand its constellation up to 18 satellites by mid-2022, with the objective of reaching an average access time of three hours anywhere on the globe.
- The mission is used in many sectors, from monitoring floods and mining activities, to marine vessel detection and iceberg monitoring.
- The ICEYE satellite constellation will complement existing synthetic aperture radar missions in the Copernicus program.
- Toni Tolker-Nielsen continued, “We are particularly proud to work with ICEYE, which is one the few New Space companies that we have in Europe in the field of Earth observation. In fact, this is not the first contract that ESA has signed with ICEYE. For a few years now, ESA has been buying ICEYE data and making them available to scientists and to pilot activities. I encourage scientists to use ICEYE data through the Earthnet program.”
• October 7, 2021: ICEYE has announced today the appointment of Lisa Wardlaw as Global Head of Insurance Solutions. In this new role, Wardlaw will lead ICEYE’s efforts to deliver natural catastrophe data solutions to help catalyze the digital transformation of the insurance industry globally. 18)
Figure 14: Insurance market strategy and innovation specialist, Lisa Wardlaw, joins ICEYE; Daniel Stander announced as Senior Advisor (image credit: ICEYE)
- ICEYE owns and operates the largest synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) constellation in the world and offers solutions focused on the unique needs of government and the insurance sector. By combining data from spaceborne sensors with multiple auxiliary information sources, ICEYE can provide actionable insights about natural hazards in near real time to its customers.
- Wardlaw is a highly accomplished strategy and innovation executive with extensive finance, operational and digital experience. Over a 25-year career, she has helped transform and differentiate several insurance businesses. She joins ICEYE from Farmers Insurance, a subsidiary of Zurich Insurance Group, where she was Chief Strategic Financial Officer. Prior to this, Wardlaw was Global Chief Digital Strategy & Transformation Officer for Global Reinsurance at Munich Re.
- “This is an incredible time to be joining ICEYE,” said Wardlaw. “Our priority is to deliver on ICEYE’s mission to make the impossible possible for our insurance customers. We have a huge opportunity; the ability to combine capabilities that never existed before in ways that will help transform the insurance industry. ICEYE is already helping its clients cover and respond to natural catastrophes in new and innovative ways. It’s an incredible innovation challenge. With groundbreaking capabilities and a laser focus on the needs of the insurance value chain, we are re-imaging traditional norms and business models in ways that are strategically important.”
- So far in 2021, ICEYE has tracked more than 450 potential flood events globally, imaged over 350 potential flood events, and analyzed over 30 flood events which each spanned a total area of at least 20,000 km2. In total, the company has launched 14 SAR satellites since 2018, with the most recent launch of four new spacecraft taking place in July. ICEYE also recently joined the seventh cohort of the Lloyd’s of London’s innovation accelerator program, Lloyd’s Lab.
- ICEYE also today announced Daniel Stander as a Senior Advisor. Stander has spent the last 20 years at the interface of risk and innovation. He is currently a Senior Advisor to the United Nations on matters of risk finance, as well as Deputy Chair of the Resilient Cities Network. He also has extensive experience in quantifying, managing and financing climate risk, having held several leadership positions at Risk Management Solutions (RMS), where he was most recently Global Managing Director.
- “The insurance industry has long demanded faster access to accurate, actionable insights - especially in the immediate aftermath of a catastrophic event. Properly integrated into the insurance ecosystem, ICEYE’s data can drive efficiencies, improve responsiveness, and ultimately enhance coverage and service to those in need,” Stander said. “A key part of my advisory role for ICEYE is meeting with insurers, re-insurers, brokers and loss adjusters, refining how ICEYE can bridge the data gap with timely access to critical hazard and damage data. The initial feedback from the market has been hugely encouraging.”
- Commenting on the appointments, Charles Blanchet, ICEYE’s Vice President of Solutions, added: “At ICEYE, we are fully committed to collaborating with the re/insurance sector to help transform how it predicts, prevents and responds to catastrophic events. A core part of that is investing in market-leading talent; executives who lead with authenticity, who bring deep domain expertise and a relentless client focus. I couldn’t be happier with today’s announcement. Daniel’s guidance so far has been invaluable to the leadership team at ICEYE. Lisa, a pioneer of digital innovation in the insurance market, will in her new role doubtless continue to help reinvent the industry she loves. Nobody is as committed as ICEYE to transforming the insurance value chain with persistent monitoring. Today’s announcement demonstrates that commitment.”
• July 6, 2021: ICEYE announced today the achievement of Daily Coherent Ground Track Repeat (GTR) imaging with ICEYE radar satellites. This new, world-first capability enables detecting everything from large changes, such as monitoring if ships have moved, all the way to such detailed changes on-ground that a person on-site would not be able to recognize. The data enables performing Coherent Change Detection (CCD) every 24 hours, which has use cases in detailed monitoring of patterns of life, site activity, ground subsidence, infrastructure integrity, construction, and more. 19)
Figure 15: A radar satellite image of the largest seaport in Europe - Port of Rotterdam, the Netherlands. The image was acquired with an ICEYE SAR satellite in the Spot imaging mode (image credit: ICEYE)
- ICEYE now provides the world’s most frequent coherent radar satellite data coverage to a selected initial set of customers. The capability is delivered to customers as daily imagery delivered from individual customer-selected locations. This newly demonstrated capability is expected to be available for a wider customer base in 2022, after the initial early access period.
- “When you need to know what happens at a chosen location, you need the right technologies to acquire that information. ICEYE has spent the last three years actively pursuing this revolutionary capability for our customers, as it provides an unparalleled basis for performing change detection.” said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and Co-founder of ICEYE. “This is a completely new level of performance. It enables four times more frequent persistent monitoring with radar satellites than has ever been available before.”
- Coherence is a term given for the exact similarity between two radar satellite images. If a car has driven across a field, stockpiles have been adjusted, or forested areas have been cut down, these are seen as changes in the coherence between the chosen two images taken from different times of that location.
Figure 16: Daily imaging from ICEYE shows stockpiles being adjusted and transferred at the port of Rotterdam, with near-by cranes interacting with vessels (image credit: ICEYE)
- The compelling advantage of ICEYE’s Daily Coherent GTR capability is that it allows quickly determining small changes at a location on a consistent daily basis. This type of persistent monitoring is intended for knowing exactly the level of activity at a chosen site. The Daily Coherent GTR capability is available either in very high resolution imaging for smaller areas, or wider area coverage at high resolution.
- Radar satellite data acquired with this capability enables data users to perform interferometric and coherence analysis. The technical achievement is a result of a successful orbit adjustment of ICEYE’s satellites, which allow the same locations on Earth to be imaged from exactly the same orbit placement every 24 hours. It is the precision and repeatability of the imaging angles that enable ICEYE to deliver this new capability, in addition to the globally unique spacecraft design of ICEYE.
- “The ability to image the same area at the same angle each day creates new opportunities for detecting daily changes that were not previously possible. By overlaying stacks of daily images, it is now possible to rapidly determine if objects have moved or entered the scene.” said Jerry Welsh, CEO of ICEYE US. “For example, we can monitor activities at a port and quickly identify changes, whether it’s commodities sitting on the docks or ships in the harbor. We have previewed this technology with some of our U.S. customers and the response has been amazing.”
Figure 17: Daily imaging from ICEYE shows that cars are parked alongside a road in Rotterdam port during weekdays, but not on weekends (image credit: ICEYE)
- Last week, ICEYE launched four more synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellites with SpaceX, bringing the total number of the company’s radar satellite missions launched to 14. One of the newest spacecraft is a next-generation demonstration mission, which is set to double the effective resolution of ICEYE’s proprietary imaging instrument, while the other three satellites are set to deliver data to customers with flight-proven technology after commissioning is finalized.
• June 23, 2021: ICEYE, the global leader in persistent monitoring of the Earth with radar satellite imaging, announced today it has partnered with Makoto Higashi to act as the General Manager of ICEYE's business operations in Japan. Mr. Higashi has over 40 years of experience in business operations, including previous positions as the CEO & President of Japan Space Imaging Corporation, and GM, GEOINT, at Hitachi Ltd. ICEYE's operations in Japan will be dedicated to services for the Japanese government and local commercial organizations. Within the first 12 months, ICEYE plans to open an office in Tokyo and expand to an initial 10-person team serving the Japanese market. 20)
- What ICEYE has accomplished in satellite operations and services for its government customers is remarkable. My intent is to continue on that path to help provide crucial information and dedicated services with radar satellite data to the Japanese satellite data market.” Makoto Higashi, General Manager, ICEYE Japan “Only those satellite data companies that have withstood the strict requirements of government customers have prospered. ICEYE is very well-respected in this regard worldwide. The Japanese market has an opportunity to access remarkable aerospace capabilities with the data products ICEYE has to offer.”
- The insurance organization Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance is among ICEYE’s Japan-based customer base. The organization receives ICEYE’s insights from its global flood monitoring solution to serve its insurance customers with significantly faster claims payments after natural catastrophes.
- "ICEYE’s advanced technology in SAR image acquisition & near real-time data analysis brought our long-term business goals to reality and even has potential to transform beyond our claim service operation," said Hidenori Kobayashi, Deputy General Manager at Tokyo Marine & Nichido Fire insurance.
- ICEYE Japan offices are opening in Tokyo within the next 12 months, with initial recruitment focusing on local commercial operations. ICEYE has so far launched 10 radar satellite missions since early 2018, including dedicated satellites for customers. The company has gathered $152 million in financing to date, with offices in Finland, Poland, US, UK, Spain, and Japan. For 2020, ICEYE has reported $50 million in signed contracts for the year.
• June 10, 2021: ICEYE radar satellite data is now fully integrated into The ESA Third Party Missions (TPM) program, which allows for sponsored SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) data access to researchers and Earth Observation (EO) application developers. 21)
- ICEYE, Finnish New Space and global leader in persistent monitoring of the Earth through its constellation of radar imaging satellites, announced today that the ESA Earth Observation Program Board has approved the integration of ICEYE’s satellite imagery into the Third Party Missions (TPMs) data portfolio. Through this programme, ESA facilitates access to ICEYE’s SAR data free-of-charge for scientific, research and pre-operational Earth Observation based applications.
- “We are delighted to join the prestigious ESA Earthnet TPM Program. The programme is an incredible resource for the global Earth observation community, and especially for research data users.”, said Tero Vauraste, Regional Director Europe, ICEYE. “As the first New Space organization to do so, ICEYE provides data in all radar imaging modes through the program: Spot, Strip, Scan. With these, data users have sponsored access to the full range of SAR imagery from very high resolution to wide area coverage.”
- ESA, through the Earthnet Program offers free-of-charge data to international Principal Investigators from a variety of EO satellite missions developed and operated by space agencies and by commercial data providers. The data can be used for research and development of applications for pre-operational use. ESA also utilizes Third Party Satellite imagery for its own projects. ICEYE imagery was thoroughly and successfully validated in previous program stages under the Earthnet Data Assessment framework before becoming part of the full TPM portfolio.
- “We are very pleased to welcome ICEYE as a Third Party Mission partner and to disseminate its SAR satellite images through the ESA Earthnet Program.”, said Peggy Fischer, Mission Manager of ESA Third Party Missions. “ICEYE's constantly growing satellite constellation and the high quality of SAR images are an unprecedented data source and an asset for ESA’s Third Party Mission portfolio.”
- All current ICEYE imaging modes are offered through this program. Users get access to the very high-resolution Spot imaging mode covering areas of 25 km2, the high-resolution Strip and the recently launched Scan imaging mode covering areas of 10,000 km2, respectively. It is possible to obtain archive data or request new image acquisitions.
- The ESA TPM process includes the submission of a project proposal on the ESA Earth Online portal.
- The TPM program, funded under ESA's Earthnet program, has been in existence for more than four decades and has established global collaboration between space agencies, mission and data providers for the benefit of the Earth Observation community.
• May 10, 2021: Finnish New Space leader ICEYE announced today the commercial availability of wide area imaging capabilities covering 10,000 km2 data acquisitions with its SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellite constellation. ICEYE is the only New Space SAR satellite provider to achieve wide-area Scan mode imaging, with up to a 100-times larger area coverage from the closest alternatives in the marketplace. Thanks to the completely unique system design of ICEYE’s SAR satellites, ICEYE is now able to provide the world’s single most comprehensive persistent monitoring capabilities both for land and sea data use cases. 22)
- “It’s really exciting to see another world first from ICEYE. Our leading-edge persistent monitoring capabilities, now boosted with Scan mode, enable our commercial and government customers to quickly and effortlessly survey huge areas for purposes such as sea ice monitoring, ensuring maritime safety and national security use cases,” said Steve Young, Vice President, Business Development and Sales, ICEYE. “Our unique satellite constellation and technology approach makes ICEYE’s capability something alternative approaches simply aren’t able to match.”
- ICEYE’s new Scan imaging is particularly effective for acquiring wide coverage imagery for maritime use cases, where national security authorities and maritime safety officials require persistent visibility into large sea areas. The alternative methods of monitoring these areas, such as airplanes and sending out patrol vessels to sea, are costly and not always feasible due to inclement weather or night time. Radar satellite imaging works both day and night, and even through cloud cover. ICEYE is the only New Space SAR data provider with a current system design that supports comprehensive wide area imaging.
- “We’ve done trials to Scan image areas as large as 100 km x 400 km (60 x 250 miles) with a single acquisition, covering areas at once that would take more than 1500 Spot images as a comparison,” said Pekka Laurila, CSO & Co-founder, ICEYE. “ICEYE continues to lead the way with several world first technology innovations for the benefit of our customers, as we have continually done since we launched the world’s first New Space SAR satellite over 3 years ago.”
- ICEYE was the world’s first company to launch a SAR satellite under 100 kg in 2018, the first New Space provider to achieve under 1-meter SAR resolution imaging in 2019, the first to demonstrate interferometric capabilities in 2020, and even the first to produce SAR videos from individual satellite passes also in 2020. In total, ICEYE has raised $152M in financing, launched 10 SAR missions, and has plans to launch up to 10 more spacecraft still in 2021.
Figure 18: A wide area ICEYE radar satellite image of the Strait of Gibraltar (image credit: ICEYE)
Figure 19: This image is an ICEYE demonstration of 400 km by 100 km Scan mode imaging, acquired around the time the vessel ”Ever Given” was released from its recent predicament, with marine traffic still queuing for their turn to pass through the Suez Canal (image credit: ICEYE)
Figure 20: A Strip ICEYE radar satellite image of the Suez Canal from March 26, 2021, when the vessel Ever Given was blocking the waterway (image credit: ICEYE)
Figure 21: A very high-resolution Spot image of the vessel Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal, acquired with an ICEYE SAR satellite (image credit: ICEYE)
Figure 22: A radar image of Viti Levu Island where Suva, the capital city of Fiji, is located. The image was taken with an ICEYE SAR satellite in the recently released Scan imaging mode, perfectly suited for wide land & sea area monitoring (image credit: ICEYE)
• April 15, 2021: ICEYE today announced that it has opened a new manufacturing facility in Irvine, California. The company’s U.S. headquarters will host the production of multiple spacecraft simultaneously and also contain a research and development lab, offices, and a customer engagement space. Importantly, the Irvine location also houses a Mission Operations Center for monitoring and operating U.S. licensed spacecraft. 23)
- “With our new production facility in the U.S., we will add significant next-generation capabilities to our space and ground segments,” said Jerry Welsh, CEO of ICEYE US. “This will provide us with the most reliable operational foundation, and give us the flexibility and efficiency to best accommodate the requirements of our U.S. government customers.”
- In line with the company’s rapid growth and strong customer demand, ICEYE US is hiring talents that have skills in spacecraft engineering, assembly, integration and testing, project management, software development, ground services, sales, and customer service. The company expects to have offices on the east and west coasts by mid-2021.
- “Like other aerospace hubs around the country, Southern California has a rich space legacy, a tremendous talent pool, and an excellent base of suppliers and partners,” said Deepak Grover, Vice President of Operations at ICEYE US. “We look forward to further fueling our growth trajectory and Irvine is the perfect spot to set up our new facility.”
- In order to better serve U.S. customers, ICEYE has signed an agreement with In-Q-Tel to accelerate the delivery of cutting-edge capabilities to U.S. government organizations. In-Q-Tel identifies and partners with companies developing innovations that have both high national security impact and the potential for commercial success.
- “ICEYE’s world-class SAR satellites and their market-leading global coverage allows for capture despite time of day and weather conditions. We are pleased and excited to bring this technology to our government partners,” offered Simon Davidson, Managing Partner, In-Q-Tel, and EVP, IQT Emerge.
- “It’s our privilege to join forces with In-Q-Tel to field advanced technologies relevant to our U.S. customers,” said Eric Jensen, President of ICEYE US. “Our new facility strengthens ICEYE’s ability to rapidly deliver decision-quality insights, to build assets for U.S. missions, and to address the hybrid architecture needs of the U.S. government as a trusted provider of commercial services.”
- At any given time, most of the Earth is covered in clouds or darkness. Unlike traditional Earth observation satellites, ICEYE’s small radar imaging satellites can form high-resolution images of areas of the Earth in daylight, at night, and through cloud cover. They can ‘see’ any part of the Earth multiple times a day. ICEYE has successfully launched 10 missions to date and operates the world’s largest fleet of commercial synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellites.
• March 31,2021: ICEYE announced today $50M in signed contracts last year for radar satellite imaging services, solutions, and satellite missions. This represents nearly 10X growth from the previous year. ICEYE’s real-time Earth observation capabilities transform existing businesses and government processes by adding substantial efficiency with specific knowledge about ongoing events around the globe. Ten new satellite missions are planned for 2021 to meet growing customer demand for data. 24)
- ICEYE is a pioneer in creating solutions relevant for natural catastrophe response with satellite imaging augmented with third-party data and real-time flood analysis. Earlier this month, the company announced a strategic partnership with Swiss Re, one of the world's leading reinsurers. Through this partnership, Swiss Re is able to generate fast and accurate portfolio and event-level loss numbers for the industry.
- The $50M in contracts signed represents relationships with customers in governments and in the commercial sector serving several vertical markets. In order to meet the increased customer demand for data, ICEYE plans to launch more satellites this year than originally forecasted, with a total of 10 new missions. The next launch is booked for mid-2021, including a next-generation satellite with new and innovative capabilities. With these new launches, ICEYE strengthens its delivery of best-in-class persistent monitoring services for its customers.
- “We are very excited to see the solutions business growing so fast. The satellites are primarily a data collection tool. ICEYE is a data company and its mission transforms businesses with the use of real-time earth observation,” said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and Co-founder of ICEYE. “With the momentum built up last year, ICEYE continues as the foremost provider of SAR data and solutions based on radar satellite imaging in the world.”
- As ICEYE’s growth accelerates, key executives have been recently hired to its leadership team: Alan Thompson as VP Engineering, Shay Strong as VP Analytics, Marita Markkula as VP Marketing, Susan Repo as CFO and Steven Scheers as Head of People & Culture.
• March 2, 2021: ICEYE, the largest commercial synthetic-aperture Radar (SAR) satellite operator and flood monitoring provider, announces its strategic partnership with Swiss Re, one of the world’s leading providers of reinsurance and insurance. Building on ICEYE’s innovative technology, the partnership will advance flood risk management, assist disaster response and speed up claims payments globally. Swiss Re’s clients will benefit from enhanced insights and bespoke solutions. 25)
- The partnership combines ICEYE's flood monitoring competence with Swiss Re's risk knowledge to provide enhanced insights and tailored solutions for reinsurance and insurance clients worldwide.
- The partnership announced today will advance Swiss Re’s natural catastrophe services by enabling early warning systems and near real-time flood monitoring built on ICEYE’s world-leading flood monitoring capabilities with radar satellite imaging. ICEYE’s unique radar satellite constellation, high resolution imaging capabilities, and rapid response analysis fuels ICEYE’s monitoring solution, which offers global coverage for Swiss Re to track and react faster to floods around the globe.
- The strategic partnership will initially focus on floods and it is intended to expand to other perils soon after, such as wildfires, wind and earthquake damages.
- Flooding has been consistently one of the most recurrent and costly natural catastrophes our world suffers. Modelling floods has proven particularly challenging in locations with fine-scale changes in elevation, complex terrains and man-made structures as is typical for dense urban centers. The partnership aims to address exactly these areas where most of the flood modelling today falls short and thereby addressing the insurers’ pain points.
- Swiss Re will gain access to ICEYE’s SAR data on flood events on a global basis, high accuracy observation-based flood maps, snapshots of the developments of individual floods, and water depth estimations within 24 hours for these events. Swiss Re will make footprint assessments of the events available on CatNet® Premium – its proprietary geo risk platform – thereby enabling its clients faster loss assessment and payouts.
- Pranav Pasricha, Swiss Re’s Global Head of P&C Solutions: “We’re very pleased to announce the strategic partnership with ICEYE. By combining Swiss Re’s risk knowledge with ICEYE’s data, we will be able to further expand our capabilities in geo and remote sensing. The partnership will enable us to develop solutions, advance our services to the benefit of our clients and enable faster claims payouts. We see this as an important commitment for a serious natural catastrophe threat and think it could become a real game changer.”
- Charles Blanchet, VP Solutions, ICEYE: “Swiss Re has challenged ICEYE to create a transformative flood monitoring capability for the insurance industry, and they have helped us create it. We look forward to partnering with Swiss Re to give Swiss Re and their clients a competitive advantage in the market.”
• February 25, 2021: ICEYE, the global leader in persistent monitoring with radar satellite imaging, published today its first set of images from the three ICEYE SAR satellites launched at the end of January by the SpaceX Transporter-1 mission. All three spacecraft have successfully completed initial operations and are now progressing through the calibration process. Once the calibration stage and final preparations are completed, the spacecraft will become commercially available for customers to order images. Radar satellite imaging is used to monitor locations of interest both day and night, and even through cloud cover. 26)
- “With the largest fleet of SAR satellites in the world, optimized for mission specific performance, ICEYE is uniquely positioned to deliver best-in- class persistent monitoring performance,” said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and Co-founder of ICEYE. “Seeing the first images from new spacecraft is always an exciting time. Each of the frames represent a massive amount of effort from our team.”
- The selected gallery of first radar satellite images from the three newest SAR satellites from ICEYE are provided in Figures 23, 24 and 25. Some of these images were taken as early as February 15, less than a month after launch.
- “Once we complete the calibration of these spacecraft, ICEYE will have the world’s largest SAR constellation.” said Jerry Welsh, CEO ICEYE U.S. “As our constellation expands, we improve our target revisit capabilities. Thanks to our optimized design, we are able to capture even the most target congested areas and provide unmatched persistent monitoring capabilities.”
• January 12, 2021: The private sector is coming out with new geospatial intelligence products and services faster than the government can figure out how to buy them. That means analysts need ways to procure commercial geoint “at a moment’s notice,” said David Gauthier, director of the NGA (National Geospatial Intelligence Agency) commercial and business operations group. 27)
- NGA supplies U.S. government agencies with geospatial intelligence derived from satellite images. Its sister agency, the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), is responsible for procuring imagery for NGA.
- Most of the demand is for photographic imagery captured by electro-optical sensors in space but analysts are increasingly seeing the value of other sources of intelligence such as space-based synthetic aperture radar that can penetrate clouds, and radio frequency satellites that identify and geolocate the source of RF signals. A growing number of companies in the United States and Europe are offering these services.
- Gauthier said NGA is preparing to work with “hundreds of suppliers” and that will require an ability to do “real time solution matching” as needs arise, he said Jan. 12 on a webinar organized by the Smallsat Alliance, a space industry group.
- NGA and the NRO are stepping up market research to better understand what’s available, said Gauthier. Along with that, there is a need for a “very robust acquisition services office” that can bring the new technology to government users.
- Gauthier said the intelligence community slowly is pivoting to a “commercial first” mindset. “We’re promoting that strategy across leadership ... that basically says the cost of ignoring commercial capabilities is much worse than the cost of using them.”
- That view is shared by congressional committees. The 2021 National Defense Authorization Act has provisions calling for DoD to use commercial geoint data and services.
- The NRO is looking to expand the pool of commercial imagery suppliers. Several companies received study contracts, including suppliers of electro-optical, radar, RF and hyperspectral imagery. The agency said procurement contracts will be awarded this year. NGA also has pilot programs under way aimed at developing new ways to work with commercial vendors.
- Gauthier said he could not comment on NRO procurement decisions. He said both NGA and the NRO are “committed to purchasing capabilities from commercial constellations.”
Figure 26: ICEYE captured this three-meter resolution SAR image of Brazil's capital city Brasília earlier this year (image credit: ICEYE)
• October 13, 2020: ICEYE offers public access to the rapidly growing archive of radar satellite imagery acquired with the company’s SAR satellite constellation. 28)
- Finnish New Space leader ICEYE today announced access to ICEYE's Public Archive, containing nearly 18,000 images from ICEYE satellites. The ICEYE Public Archive includes radar imagery in various imaging modes taken with ICEYE’s SAR satellite constellation between mid-2019 and now. The ICEYE Public Archive consists of preview images from around the world, which are released under CC BY-NC 4.0 license, allowing for non-commercial use.
- “The ICEYE SAR satellite constellation is here for the global community of decision makers, data users, and more, to improve our shared world around us all,” said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and Co-founder of ICEYE. “The ICEYE Public Archive opens up a unique view of the world, which we invite you to explore together with us.”
- The ICEYE Public Archive is provided as a downloadable file through the ICEYE website, showing the locations and time of imaging for each thumbnail in the Archive. After downloading the file, users can open it with their Geographic Information System (GIS) program of choice, such as Google Earth Pro or QGIS, making exploring the world of radar satellite imaging accessible for all.
Figure 27: Animated visualization of the ICEYE Public Archive which contains nearly 18,000 thumbnails of SAR satellite images taken with the ICEYE SAR satellite constellation over the last years (image credit: ICEYE)
- “Every day, ICEYE provides unique access to data and information for our customers that hasn’t been available before,” said Steve Young, Vice President, Business Development and Sales, ICEYE. “Our customers and the global community of Earth observation data explorers now have access to some of the imagery that has been collected in the prior years by ICEYE's SAR satellite constellation. The ICEYE Public Archive provides additional inspiration for what can be achieved in the future.”
- The ICEYE Public Archive is available to download today. The Public Archive does not contain the full catalog of ICEYE imagery, as customer exclusivity applies in many cases. The ICEYE SAR data associated with the preview images presented in the Public Archive can be ordered in the ICEYE standard image formats by following the order process described in the ICEYE Product Guide. ICEYE sales will assist new customers to set up an account for image orders.
Figure 28: An example of a thumbnail from the ICEYE Public Archive. This radar image of Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok, Thailand, was acquired on 9th of August 2020, in Spotlight High imaging mode, with an ICEYE SAR satellite (image credit: ICEYE)
Figure 29: Several preview images of ICEYE SAR satellite data from different locations and acquired in different imaging modes, representing the variety of imagery in the ICEYE Public Archive (image credit: ICEYE)
• July 8, 2020: The Finnish space company ICEYE is providing its SAR satellite data for assessment via ESA’s Earthnet Third Party Mission (TPM). Through this program, ESA sponsors the cost to access ICEYE’s SAR data for research and Earth Observation (EO) based application development. 29)
- “We are very proud to begin distributing SAR data to the international user community through ESA’s Earthnet Third Party Mission.”, said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and co-founder of ICEYE. “ICEYE has always aimed for providing wide and easy access to its SAR data, and this is an excellent step forward in that. ESA’s Earthnet program and the TPM framework is a phenomenal tool for data users that shows the value of European collaboration.”
- The Earthnet Third Party Mission is an ESA framework that enables the collection and distribution of data from non-ESA satellite missions free-of-charge for international Principal Investigators. ESA allows the data to be used for research and applications development including preparation of future operational use. Furthermore, ESA utilizes third party satellite data to supplement its own internal projects.
- Giuseppe Ottavianelli, ESA TPM Mission Manager: “ESA will facilitate the ICEYE data assessment through a dedicated Announcement of Opportunity process which is open to all international Principal Investigators. In the future, ESA also plans to implement specific studies on various application topics. With the upcoming launch, the importance of ICEYE imagery in the EO Research and Development community will certainly grow by enabling new operational EO based services.”
- The Announcement of Opportunity (AO) process requires the submission of a project proposal. All information is available on ESA’s AO webpage for ICEYE data.
- Roberto Biasutti, ESA TPM Operational Manager: "ICEYE's constantly growing SAR satellite constellation represents a milestone in the radar Earth observation industry. It is of great importance for our Principal Investigators to explore the potential of ICEYE data. ESA is delighted to support this process."
- In the framework of the TPM program, ESA and its members aim to establish dialogs with the various mission providers and to promote global cooperation between space agencies and companies to make resources and knowledge widely available to the EO community. The TPM activity has been in effect for more than 40 years and is funded under ESA’s Earthnet program.
• May 6, 2020: With an actively maintained 18-day repeat ground track worldwide, ICEYE has demonstrated a new radar satellite imaging capability from its current radar satellite constellation. ICEYE’s interferometric SAR capability is used for change detection measured in millimeters. 30)
- Finnish New Space leader ICEYE is the first in the world to demonstrate interferometric capabilities from SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellites under 100 kg in mass. With an actively maintained 18-day ground track revisit cycle, ICEYE is now able to produce a further capability that was previously only available from larger, conventional SAR satellites. Interferometry is made available to ICEYE customers later in 2020.
- SAR interferometry is used to detect millimeter-scale surface movements in vertical direction between two or more SAR images. These height differences are analyzed using maps called interferograms, which are the basis for creating Digital Elevation Models (DEM). Interferograms are also used for monitoring oil exploration activities, ongoing underground constructions, ensuring the safety of mining activities, and analyzing ground deformations after earthquakes, among other uses.
Figure 30: An interferogram shows height information by considering differences between two SAR images (image credit: ICEYE)
Figure 31: The coherence between two SAR images shows what has changed (shown as black) - and what has stayed the same (white) - between the time that has passed from one image to the next (image credit: ICEYE)
- Coherence, a correlation between two SAR images, is a valuable source for detailed change detection analysis, land cover classification, analyzing infrastructure, flood monitoring, and more.
- ICEYE is in a unique position in the world, as its small SAR satellites are maneuvered with electric propulsion, which enables the exact maintained satellite orbits that are necessary for interferometry. The integrated propulsion solutions and technical support provided by ICEYE’s key partner ENPULSION - with additional collaboration from the European Space Agency - have been instrumental for ICEYE in achieving the desired outcomes in this capability demonstration.
- “Generating interferometric information from the world’s smallest SAR satellites is revolutionary.”, said Steve Young, Vice President, Business Development and Sales, ICEYE. “This will enable our customers to perform change detection measured in millimeters, and to utilize SAR satellite based 3D data from their locations of interest.”
- ICEYE’s interferometric data will be provided to customers later in 2020. Interferometry will be made available in high detail from Spotlight images, and for wider areas from Stripmap data. Once commercially available, ICEYE's standard product formats for interferometry will be accessible with standard Geographic Information System (GIS) tools.
• March 26, 2020: With an in-orbit demonstration from ICEYE radar imaging satellites, the company's data achieves the finest resolution class in commercial SAR. The company continues with its consistent track-record of delivering reliable and timely SAR satellite data to the Earth observation market, while overcoming another world-first feat from very small SAR satellites. 31)
- Finnish New Space leader ICEYE unveiled today its latest capability of 25 cm resolution imaging with SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) small satellites, utilizing the company’s current commercial SAR satellite constellation in-orbit. With this very high resolution imaging capability, ICEYE SAR data achieves the same resolution class provided by larger, conventional commercial SAR satellites operating at their highest performance.
Figure 32: A compressed preview image of ICEYE radar satellite imagery, originally acquired at 25 cm resolution, showing oil tanks in Rotterdam, The Netherlands (image credit: ICEYE)
- ICEYE successfully launched its first SAR satellite in January 2018, ICEYE-X1, which achieved 10 x 10 meter resolution data capabilities, while also becoming the World's first SAR satellite mission under 100 kg in launch mass. With the company's latest development of 25 cm imaging from its current commercial SAR satellite constellation of 3 spacecraft, ICEYE data achieves the finest classification of resolution in the commercial SAR market.
- “Before, these resolutions have been exclusively reserved for the larger, traditional SAR spacecraft,” said Pekka Laurila, CSO & Co-founder, ICEYE. “This resolution is operationally expected to be available for ICEYE customers already mid-2020 from the current in-orbit constellation.”
- Following standard industry definitions, the native slant plane resolution of the newly unveiled SAR data is 25 cm in the azimuth direction, and 50 cm in the range direction, before ground-plane adjustments are applied. The finest resolution data will be provided to customers in ICEYE's standard product formats that are accessible with standard Geographic Information System (GIS) tools.
• March 9, 2020: ICEYE continues to lead the way for synthetic-aperture radar satellite technologies, now with a newly unveiled in-orbit demonstration for analyzing movement from the company’s SAR data. 32)
- Finnish New Space leader ICEYE unveiled its newest in-orbit satellite demonstration, the capability to create SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) videos from the company’s current SAR satellite constellation, during Satellite 2020 in Washington, DC. ICEYE’s innovative imaging and processing technique for generating SAR videos can be used for advanced analysis of movement from a single satellite pass. This in-orbit demonstration opens new use cases for data users, while validating once more the forerunner status of ICEYE in SAR satellite technology.
- Generating SAR video data from ICEYE SAR satellites is done by initially focusing imaging on a single precise location for 20 seconds or more during an individual satellite pass. The acquired data is then processed into several high-resolution frames from that period, rather than into a single image. ICEYE has developed the techniques involved by utilizing its own satellite hardware and processing software.
- “The capability to generate SAR videos from a single satellite pass is an exciting feature for advanced radar image analysis of movement,” said Pekka Laurila, CSO & Co-founder, ICEYE. “We’re proud to be delivering significant amounts of standardized SAR data from orbit right now, and a big part of our commitment to our global clients is to continue to develop new capabilities that they can benefit from.”
- As a technical demonstration of the new capability, ICEYE published a collection of several ICEYE SAR video acquisitions, featuring a port in Busan, the Heathrow Airport, Las Vegas, the Bingham Canyon mine, and Tokyo. Locations are listed in the order of appearance. In these SAR videos, movement can be detected in the form of a vessel maneuvering near a port, airplanes moving at an airport, and trucks moving along a road. In addition, the videos show how large buildings in cities reflect radio waves from different imaging angles, as the satellite passes over the area.
Figure 33: On March 9th, 2020, ICEYE is publishing the first in-orbit demonstration of SAR videos, acquired with ICEYE SAR satellites. In these scenes, you can detect and analyze movement in a new way, giving insights into what is happening on the ground during a single SAR satellite pass over the location (video credit: ICEYE)
- “SAR video data is helpful in guiding analysts to moving objects for deeper technical analysis. The video previews that ICEYE creates from the acquired data are helpful for visually communicating analytical results – forming a more complete suite of tools for the analysts and decision makers.”, said Dr. Mark Matossian, CEO of the US subsidiary of ICEYE. “The market for advanced image analysis continues to grow, as new capabilities are introduced - along with new satellite units. With roughly 20% of the world’s commercial SAR satellite units in orbit right now, ICEYE has shown to be in its own league in swift SAR satellite development.”
• February 13, 2020: ICEYE, the Finnish radar satellite operator, opened a U.S. office in the San Francisco Bay Area led by Mark Matossian, who managed a series of aerospace programs at Google including the Earth-imaging venture Terra Bella. 33)
- “The U.S. is a very big market and a top priority for ICEYE,” Rafal Modrzewski, ICEYE CEO and co-founder, told SpaceNews. “We have a large set of customer-partners operating in that market. We want to make sure they get the best possible service.”
- Since launching the first small commercial synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite in 2018, ICEYE has established a constellation of three microsatellites to provide a range of products to defense and intelligence organizations, civil government agencies and commercial customers.
- The firm’s U.S. customers and partners include satellite data and analytics firms Ursa Space of Ithaca, New York, R2Space of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and RS Metrics of Stamford, Connecticut, as well as ExxonMobil, the multinational corporation based in Irving, Texas.
- “We want an office dedicated to U.S. customers and are contemplating a variety of options including establishing a full manufacturing chain in the U.S. as we hear from some customers that may be a requirement or may be helpful to them,” Modrzewski said. “Almost all of the applications we have on our roadmap are in demand by U.S. customers.”
- Matossian, who earned a PhD in operations research and optimization from the University of Colorado, Boulder, before working on the Strategic Defense Initiative and a 1990s broadband telecommunications constellation, said he considered many business ventures before joining ICEYE.
- “Terra Bella was electrooptical imaging,” Matossian said. “When I looked at what the customers wanted, a lot of it came down to understanding precise geometry and change detection, things that are far better with synthetic-aperture radar than with electrooptical imagery. The accepted wisdom in the industry at the time was that radar satellites were too expensive and their power requirements were too large for an innovative NewSpace venture to operate them.”
- Since that is no longer the accepted wisdom, companies around the world are raising money and building satellites to create additional SAR constellations including San Francisco-based Capella Space, Umbra Lab of Santa Barbara, California, and Synspective of Tokyo.
- In addition to proving small SAR is possible, ICEYE is operating a constellation that offers imagery at “such a compelling price-point that it opens doors,” Matossian said. “I think it will actually start steering the remote sensing market toward SAR and that SAR as a category will grow because of ICEYE.”
- From ICEYE's perspective, Matossian is the right person to lead ICEYE U.S. because of his education and experience, Modrzewski said. “He did a very similar thing in the past when Google acquired SkyBox and converted it into Terra Bella. Mark was in charge of operations. He knows the industry, he knows the market and he cares about customers as much as we do.”
• January 20, 2020: ICEYE announced today the launch of its global Dark Vessel Detection solution for governmental maritime security customers. The unique solution combines SAR satellite data from ICEYE, and AIS (Automatic Identification System) data from vessels. Dark Vessel Detection is used as a source of actionable information for governments monitoring their EEZs (Exclusive Economic Zones), day and night, and even through cloud cover. 34)
- ICEYE offers its dark vessel detection solution now in a standardized data product format for maritime security authorities around the world. With the company’s growing radar imaging satellite constellation, delivery timelines for new data continue to shrink.
- “Dark Vessel Detection offered by ICEYE is built for governments around the world for improving the maritime safety of their regions,” said Steve Young, Vice President, Business Development and Sales, ICEYE. “This unique solution enables authorities to take action based on reliable information. Data users can improve their enforcement activities against illegal transshipments of goods, help them in addressing illegal fishing, and assist in curbing drug and human trafficking.”
- Vessels engaged in illegal activities can choose to turn off their AIS transponders to avoid detection from authorities. ICEYE’s Dark Vessel Detection service’s core is built on the company’s own radar imaging satellite constellation data, which provides a reliable source of information at all times of the day and in all weather conditions. ICEYE’s customers have access to both location information and radar satellite images of all detectable vessels - even when they do not have their AIS transponders turned on.
Figure 34: Visualization of the ICEYE Dark Vessel Detection Solution, showing locations, and the AIS status of collaborative vessels with a green circle, and dark vessels with a red circle, on top of ICEYE SAR satellite data (image credit: ICEYE)
• November 6, 2019: ICEYE today announced that it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with RS Metrics of Stamford CT, USA. The timely and actionable satellite SAR data and analysis will supply the "SAR Metal Signals" - a new product by RS Metrics, that will provide commodities market the world’s first global SAR-based iron ore inventories dataset with up to daily updates." 35)
- ICEYE, who recently announced the commercial availability of its high resolution satellite imaging, is uniquely positioned for SAR remote sensing of iron ore stockpiles. With a growing amount of radar imaging satellites in the ICEYE constellation, there is now a completely new view into almost the entirety of the global iron ore supply chain.
- In scope of this partnership, ICEYE will provide multi-angle SAR imaging and associated iron ore stockpile analysis to RS Metrics. In turn, RS Metrics will provide its users visibility into supply chain disruptions, regional and global trends, as well as iron ore inventories information that is valuable in predicting commodities and dry bulk price fluctuations.
Figure 35: Iron ore stockpiles seen and measured from ICEYE high resolution SAR imaging, at the port of Port Hedland, Australia, ready for further analysis (image credit: ICEYE)
• October 16, 2019: ICEYE today announced that its recently developed Spotlight imaging mode, which enables 1-meter radar imaging resolution from the company’s satellite constellation, is now commercially available to its customers around the world. ICEYE Spotlight imaging is purpose-built to achieve a high resolution that supports a variety of use cases for both commercial and government customers. 36)
- The successful deployment of Spotlight imaging for commercial customers is a major milestone for ICEYE, as well as a technological achievement. There are very few comparable services available worldwide, and ICEYE is currently the only organization in the world to provide this capability as a commercial service from such small SAR microsatellites. High resolution radar imagery is especially useful for distinguishing between small objects, and in helping data users classify larger objects with more certainty. 1-meter Spotlight radar imagery is particularly useful in detailed volume monitoring of stockpiles, vehicle count monitoring, property damage estimation, and oil transshipment monitoring.
- “The commodities sector is an early example where the availability of high-resolution SAR imaging can have dramatic impacts,” said Pekka Laurila, CSO and co-founder of ICEYE. “It is now possible to track specific locations, often, with high reliability, and at an incredible level of detail. The potential benefits for our early users are immense, as the competitive edge our data provides is still very fresh in the market.”
- “ICEYE and our partners are in a unique position in the world with this new commercial availability of high-resolution radar satellite data,” said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and co-founder of ICEYE. “I am proud of our team, who are helping our customers and partners to solve some of the incredibly hard challenges the world faces – both globally and locally.”
- ICEYE was the first organization in the world to technologically achieve under 1-meter resolution imagery from SAR satellites under 100 kg in mass. The latest two ICEYE SAR Satellites were launched in July 2019. The company continues to grow its commercially available SAR satellite constellation with additional satellite launches at an increasing pace.
Figure 36: An ICEYE-X2 Spotlight radar satellite image of the Kuwait International Airport's new terminal under construction (image credit: ICEYE)
• September 25 2019: ICEYE and KSAT have signed an extended cooperation agreement to provide Near Real-Time radar satellite imagery and data analysis at high speeds to customers. 37)
- ICEYE and KSAT (Kongsberg Satellite Services) today announced they have signed an extended cooperation agreement on providing Near Real-Time (NRT) SAR data services for government and commercial customers. The newly signed contract covers further data purchases and extended operations of ICEYE’s Near Real-Time SAR processor within the KSAT Ground Network, resulting in an extremely fast delivery chain for data and value-added products for customers.
- The collaborative solution between KSAT and ICEYE enables streaming satellite data directly to the ICEYE SAR processor running on the KSAT local infrastructure. This unique setup enables information extraction immediately from the arrival of the first data bytes of satellite data, resulting in delivery times of vessel detection results in less than 15 minutes.
Figure 37: High-resolution radar imagery of port of Port Hedland, Australia, taken with an ICEYE-X2 SAR satellite (image credit: ICEYE)
- KSAT has installed the ICEYE SAR processor for direct downlink capabilities, offering customers an unparalleled access to ICEYE SAR satellite constellation data. The KSAT stream currently supports the current ICEYE SAR satellite constellation of 3 satellite units, and the new system architecture is designed to handle increasing volumes of data from the growing ICEYE SAR satellite constellation.
• September 12, 2019: ICEYE’s Two Newest SAR Satellites, Launched in July 2019, Have Finished Their Initial Commissioning, and Have Been Added to ICEYE’s Commercial SAR Constellation. 38)
- ICEYE announced today its two SAR satellites launched in July 2019 have finalized their initial commissioning, and are available for customer data orders. The company now provides standardized commercial imaging access to three of its SAR satellite units, in addition to serving a number of customers with custom data products and solutions. ICEYE is set to launch two more SAR satellite units by the end of 2019 to further increase the commercial availability and coverage of the globe with the company’s constellation.
- The initial commissioning phase for these two ICEYE SAR satellites has been finalized, and standard SAR data access is available for commercial and government customers. ICEYE has recently published radar imaging with its newly developed Spotlight mode - imagery at very high resolutions.
- ICEYE is simultaneously publicizing images that have been acquired with both new SAR satellite units, taken only minutes apart from each other, to demonstrate change detection capabilities the company is developing. ICEYE intends to grow its SAR satellite constellation to cover the globe with very frequent imaging, with an average of only hours between imaging opportunities for individual locations.
Figure 38: In this composite visualization, vessels in the port of Gothenburg, Sweden, are detected changing their position with just minutes between two combined SAR satellite images. Elements shown in green represent the position of elements only seen in the prior image, and elements in red represent elements only in the following image. One of the vessels is leaving the port, and another is slowly approaching the oil terminal visible in the scene (image credit: ICEYE)
- “The capacity of these two SAR satellites helps us increase our revisit rates for individual locations, which further ensures our customers don’t have to wait for imaging,” said Pekka Laurila, Chief Strategy Officer and Co-founder of ICEYE. “With this dramatic increase in imaging capacity, we are able to also serve segments such as the insurance and energy industries with tailored information solutions that bring more direct value towards their needs.”
• August 9, 2019: Under 1-meter resolution radar satellite imaging from ICEYE breaks previous technological barriers for small SAR satellites. ICEYE is the first in the world to achieve better-than 1 meter resolution imagery from under 100 kg SAR satellites. The new Spotlight imaging capability builds on ICEYE’s legacy of leading the way on small satellite SAR since its history-making first small SAR satellite launch in January 2018. Since then the company has continued to launch more satellites, latest in July 2019 with two new units. With new satellites being launched still during 2019, ICEYE continues to develop and optimize its imaging capabilities further for customers in both commercial and government segments. 39)
- “Offering satellite imagery day and night, regardless of cloud cover, and at these very high resolutions, makes small SAR the new standard for reliable and timely imaging,” said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and co-founder of ICEYE. “The imagery we’ve released today shows that the previously perceived limits of small satellite SAR continue to be solved by our extremely talented teams at ICEYE.”
Figure 39: ICEYE radar satellite imagery that has been acquired and processed at 0.5 meter ground sample distance, featuring a port container terminal near Port Harcourt, Nigeria (image credit: ICEYE)
• July 5, 2019: ICEYE today confirmed that the simultaneous launch of two new ICEYE SAR satellites has been successful. The satellites were launched on a rideshare mission of Roscosmos managed by Exolaunch, a Berlin-based company, on July 05 2019 at 05:41 UTC. Communications with both SAR satellites have been established, and the procedure for commissioning both units for commercially available radar imaging has begun. With these units, ICEYE continues to grow its in-orbit capacity that is currently available for both government and commercial SAR data users. 40)
• June 7, 2019: ICEYE and KSAT announce joint offering on direct downlink capabilities for ICEYE constellation to push the boundaries of SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) image delivery timelines. 41)
- ICEYE, the leader in small SAR satellite technology, currently providing commercial imaging with the ICEYE-X2 satellite, and Kongsberg Satellite Services (KSAT), announced today their joint offering of full SAR Ground Segment services to ICEYE SAR satellite constellation customers. This collaborative service enables timelines as short as 15 minutes from image acquisition to processed SAR image delivery for government customers globally.
- “We are excited to be working with ICEYE to provide our customers enhanced capabilities in SAR imaging,” said Jan Petter Pedersen, Senior Vice President at KSAT. “The timelines involved in rapid imaging, downlinking and processing require new types of solutions. The combined SAR Ground Segment of ICEYE and KSAT is here to change the way customers think about the timeliness of the data they can use.”
- The current market capabilities and timelines for gaining access to commercial SAR imagery can easily vary from several hours to several days, if not weeks, for the complete chain of delivery. For many use cases such long timelines are prohibitive, as the imagery would then be too old by the time it is received for it to be useful. There has long existed a need to shrink these timelines to be closer to instantaneous, but due to the way SAR imaging and processing is performed, it has been difficult to attain globally. ICEYE and KSAT’s joint SAR Ground Segment offering enables access to a new level of service quality for SAR users worldwide.
- KSAT is the first ICEYE partner that has installed the newly developed ICEYE SAR processor for direct downlink capabilities, gaining the ability to offer its customers an unparalleled access to ICEYE SAR satellite constellation data. KSAT is developing new ground station capabilities and expanding their ground station network globally.
- “ICEYE is proud to continue to break the boundaries of what’s possible with its proprietary SAR technology” said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and co-founder of ICEYE. “Working with KSAT has enabled us to provide even better services for our customers. The next step for ICEYE is to enable direct tasking of its commercially available constellation, providing users with even better capabilities.”
- KSAT is the leading provider of communication services for spacecraft and launch vehicles from their uniquely located global ground network. KSAT’s network today spans over 180 antennas at 21 sites across the globe (including Pole to Pole coverage from Antarctica to the Arctic), and is constantly expanding. KSAT is proud to be the behind-the-scenes bridge back to Earth, supporting the vast majority of space companies, agencies, and start-ups. Furthermore, KSAT provides a variety of products derived from both SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) and high-resolution optical satellite data. The key focus is maritime situational awareness, which includes NRT (Near Real-Time) vessel detection and oil spill monitoring, ice monitoring and other related services.
Figure 40: ICEYE-X2 radar satellite image of Singapore, showing large vessels and the Changi Airport Singapore (image credit: ICEYE)
• July 05, 2019: Communications with both SAR satellites, ICEYE-X4 and ICEYE-X5, have been established, and the procedure for commissioning both units for commercially available radar imaging has begun. With these units, ICEYE continues to grow its in-orbit capacity that is currently available for both government and commercial SAR data users (Ref. 7).
- ”ICEYE’s SAR satellites don’t take years to develop and launch. We are on a faster time scale to serve data to our partners. I'm very proud of our team,” said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and Co-founder of ICEYE. “Both government and commercial customers have access to a growing SAR satellite capacity from ICEYE. We’re well on our way to providing imaging from these two new units, and we look forward to our upcoming launches still scheduled for later this year.”
• May 15, 2019: APSI (Asia Pacific Satellite Inc.) of Seoul, Korea and ICEYE, the global leader in small satellite SAR technology, announced today that the organizations have signed a memorandum of understanding about working together to support the South Korean New Space market. As a part of the agreement, APSI will supply ICEYE's SAR imagery in South Korea and also provides mutual support from both APSI and ICEYE to deliver radar imaging related satellite solutions for the South Korean market. 42)
- ICEYE is providing commercial data services to both government and industry users. The company is actively increasing the size of its SAR satellite constellation, with up to five more satellites being launched throughout 2019. ICEYE's small SAR satellites can be manufactured and launched cost-effectively, providing up to 1-meter resolution SAR images.
- APSI is a provider of equipment and services for multiple government programs in South Korea, and with the support of ICEYE’s leading technology, will grow to provide further data, hardware and radar imaging solutions to the governmental and commercial customers in South Korea.
Figure 41: Jang Soo Ryoo, Ph.D Chairman and CEO of APSI and Pekka Laurila, CSO and Co-founder of ICEYE at ICEYE offices in Finland at the singing of the contract (image credit: ICEYE)
Figure 42: ICEYE-X2 radar satellite image of Seoul, South Korea, acquired in February 2019 (image credit: ICEYE)
• January 22, 2019: Unrivaled
new satellite data combats illegal fishing and transshipment in EEZs
(Exclusive Economic Zones). 43)
Figure 43: Visualization: detecting dark vessels that do not have their required AIS tracking turned on (image credit: ICEYE)
- In addition to detecting dark vessels, this technology partnership will allow users a new level of accuracy in tracking vessels involved in trafficking of everything from arms, drugs, commodities, and people that want to avoid being seen. With the economic value of illegal fishing estimated to be up to 23B USD annually, this solution was developed to directly address this combination of economic, environmental, human rights, and industry-wide security issues.
- “We are constantly seeking partnerships that complete ICEYE’s near real-time satellite monitoring capability and help us create new services for our customers. To that end, we’re thrilled to work with Spire as it has become an industry leader with its approach in the development of its nanosatellite constellation,” said Pekka Laurila, CSO, and Co-Founder, ICEYE. “This alliance will provide more businesses and governments with a new and increased ability to monitor maritime traffic, including vessels that want to avoid detection.”
- The service will tap into Spire’s Satellite AIS (Automatic Identification System), which is currently used for continuous monitoring of vessels around the globe, in tandem with ICEYE’s satellite-based synthetic aperture radar imaging, which was designed to see dark vessels when they don’t report on their activity. Spire will utilize ICEYE’s unique ability to provide reliable, high revisit rates for radar satellite imaging, multiple times each day from anywhere on Earth, with imaging that functions through clouds at any time of day. This will allow both Spire and ICEYE to produce and provide a new data set of more substantial information at revisit rates never before possible.
Figure 44: Example case: Squid fishing near the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Argentina. In the colored ICEYE-X2 SAR image, there are Chinese squid fishing vessels that have their AIS tracking turned on, while other vessels have their AIS off. Without AIS, detected vessels remain unidentified (image credit: ICEYE)
- Argentina has been suffering from an increase in illegal squid fishing within its EEZ - the squid stocks are depleting and the available catch are decreasing in size. There have been incidents where the Argentine Coast Guard has had to take reactive actions against illegal vessels. This new dark vessel monitoring service from ICEYE and Spire brings systematic monitoring for cases such as this.
- “Data fusion holds an enormous potential impact for our world. By combining data sets like AIS and SAR, we gain previously unrealized insights in the movement of goods and people around the globe. Our relationship with ICEYE means that never before available tools will suddenly be an actionable resource to those committed to securing our oceans.” said John Lusk, General Manager, Spire Maritime.
- Spire Global Inc. of San Francisco has become an industry standard for data collection in the commercial aerospace sector and operates one of the largest constellations of private nanosatellites and ground station networks in the world. The company has also launched strategic partnerships across a myriad of verticals including deals with NASA, ESA and key players in the weather, maritime and aviation sectors.
Figure 45: An identified cargo ship North of Surabaya, Indonesia, detected with the ICEYE-X2 SAR instrument on December 22, 2018, 15:00 UTC (image credit: ICEYE)
• On December 11, 2018, ICEYE published its first radar image from the ICEYE-X2 satellite, launched on Spaceflight’s historic SSO-A mission last week. The image is of Natural Parks Aralar and Aizkorri-Aratz, Spain on December 7, 2018, taken only 4 days after launch. ICEYE-X2 was successfully launched on December 3, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. 44)
- “Our remarkable team is committed to keep delivering world-leading radar imaging satellites to help others make more informed decisions. We are ecstatic to have had not one but two groundbreaking missions this year,” said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and co-founder of ICEYE. “Is it incredibly hard to develop small SAR satellites at such a fast pace? Absolutely. Is it impossible? The achievements of our team speak for themselves.”
Figure 46: The compressed image released to the public portrays the mountainous areas between Aralar and Aizkorri-Aratz Natural Parks, during night time. The area features the Basque Mountains and several communities connected by infrastructure. The published frame contains over 500 km2 of land, from a roughly 20 x 25 km area, originally imaged at 3 x 3 meter resolution. The published image is a significantly compressed file, as the original data downlinked was 2.4GB in size for just this individual frame (image credit: ICEYE)
• December 3, 2018: Launch of ICEYE-X2 on Spaceflight’s SSO-A: SmallSat Express mission makes history as first ever Finnish-Polish satellite. 45)
- ICEYE confirmed that the launch of its satellite mission ICEYE-X2 has been successful. Communications with the satellite were successfully established at 19:58 CET, after the satellite was delivered into orbit via Spaceflight’s SSO-A: SmallSat Express mission aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
- Now in a sun-synchronous low Earth orbit, ICEYE-X2 is being commissioned for radar imaging. Launched from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, the launch represents ICEYE’s second satellite successfully placed into orbit within one year and marks a crucial step towards the company’s goal of creating the world’s largest SAR satellite constellation by the end of 2019.
- “If it weren’t for the incredible hard work of our teams, as well as the continued support from our investors and advisors, we would not be where we are today,” said Rafal Modrzewski, CEO and co-founder of ICEYE. “Although there’s always challenging work to be done, we are extremely proud of the progress we’ve made within just one year. We’re excited for what is to come in the near future and look forward to pushing the boundaries of what is possible even further.”
- Building upon ICEYE’s successful first mission ICEYE-X1, ICEYE-X2 has greatly increased in-orbit performance over its predecessor. These advancements include a significantly improved imaging resolution and the addition of propulsion for orbital adjustments, among others. The ICEYE-X2 satellite mission is aiming for further improvements in ICEYE’s SAR imaging technology, and for the active delivery of SAR satellite imagery to initial customers.
- Launched in January 2018 on-board India’s PSLV-C40 rocket, ICEYE-X1 was the world’s first SAR satellite under 100 kg placed into orbit. ICEYE-X1 successfully collected more than 600 images throughout its mission. By the end of 2019, ICEYE is on track to launch a total of 8 additional satellites.
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”Breaking the 15 Minutes Barrier from Acquisition to Delivery for
SAR imaging,” ICEYE Press Release, 7 June 2019, URL: https://www.iceye.com/press/press-releases/
”APSI and ICEYE to Provide South Korean New Space Market with SAR
Imaging Solutions,” ICEYE Press Release, 15 May 2019, URL: https://www.iceye.com/press/press-releases/
”ICEYE and Spire Join Forces To Enable Global Monitoring Of Dark
Vessels At Sea,” ICEYE Press Release, 22 January 2019, URL: https://www.iceye.com/press/press-releases/
44) ”First Radar Image from ICEYE-X2 Published Only A Week After Launch,” ICEYE, 11 December 2018, URL: https://www.iceye.com/press/press-releases/
45) ”Launch Success, ICEYE-X2 SAR Satellite Communications Established,” ICEYE Press Release, 3 December 2018, URL: https://www.iceye.com/press/press-releases
The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: ”Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors” (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (firstname.lastname@example.org).