German SAR-Lupe satellite safely in orbit

The first German reconnaissance satellite in the SAR-Lupe system has been successfully placed in orbit. The Russian Cosmos 3M launch vehicle took off on schedule from the Russian Plesetsk space station south of Archangelsk at 15:00:19 hours Central European Time, placing the first of a total of five radar satellites in its low orbit at an altitude of around 500 km half an hour later as planned.

The first contact between the control center and the satellite was established at 16:04 hours Central European Time. A preliminary review of all main functions showed that the satellite can now be put in operation. Satellite control is currently in the hands of the German Space Agency DLR in Oberpfaffenhofen. The ground station of the German Armed Forces in Gelsdorf is tracking the satellite at the same time and will assume operative responsibility for it in mid January, at which point in time it will start collecting SAR radar images.

SAR-Lupe system

SAR-Lupe is Germany’s first satellite-based reconnaissance system. It comprises five identical small satellites and a ground segment for managing the satellites and receiving and processing the radar images.

As the principal contractor of the German Federal Office of Defense Technology and Procurement (BWB), OHB-System developed the overall system and oversaw a consortium of well-known European space technology companies.

The first German radar satellite was transported to the Russian launch pad at the beginning of December after undergoing extensive testing at the Ottobrunn satellite testing center. The four other satellites will be launched in intervals of four to six months.

COSMOS 3M launch vehicle

OHB-System AG has been working very successfully with Russian space travel company POLYOT, Omsk, since the beginning of the nineties. Developed by POLYOT back in the sixties, the COSMOS launch vehicles have proven themselves in over 760 launches. With a success rate of over 97%, it is one of the world’s most reliable launch systems. The COSMOS launch vehicle is ideal for transporting small satellites to low-orbit positions.

SAR-Lupe a part of the European Reconnaissance System

SAR-Lupe will be forming part of the European Reconnaissance System. Under the ESGA project (German acronym for “Europeanization of Satellite-Based Reconnaissance”), OHB-System is creating the technical basis for allowing France to use the German SAR-Lupe radar system. In return, Germany will be able to access the French optical HELIOS II system.

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Günther Hörbst
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