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September 7, 2022

BAE Systems to launch first LEO multi-sensor satellite cluster in 2024

This launch is expected to boost Britain’s ability to analyse threats in/from/through space.

BAE Systems is set to launch its first multi-sensor satellite cluster, called Azalea, into low Earth orbit (LEO) in 2024.

Once launched, these satellites will provide secure, real-time digital military intelligence to the military customers from space.

The cluster comprises four highly resilient spacecraft.

The satellites can collectively gather, analyse, and communicate synthetic aperture radar (SAR) and optical and radio frequency (RF) signals, utilising a variety of sensors.

Launch of Azalea will further support the UK Government’s Defence Space Strategy, which was released this year.

As per this space plan, the government has prioritised Earth observation to defend and protect the nation’s interests and capabilities, which BAE Systems claims Azalea could provide.

BAE Systems Digital Intelligence business group managing director Dave Armstrong said: “The Azalea satellite cluster will process data in space to provide swathes of digital intelligence, wherever it’s needed.

“We understand how important space-based intelligence is to every domain, whether that’s informing strategic command, alerting an in-area warship, or providing real-time intelligence to forces on the ground.”

In order to support the associated work, BAE Systems also acquired British company In-Space Missions last year. 

BAE Systems is also working with a Finland-based company ICEYE that will provide advanced SAR technology for the cluster.

Consistent monitoring will allow the firm to easily detect movements of hostile aircraft, maritime vessels, or any other physical changes, including natural disasters, according to the company.

The legacy data distribution process can take hours and depends on the availability of ground stations and RF links, unlike Azalea, which takes less time to combine and deliver data securely.

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