SAR-Lupe 1 successfully put into operation and supplying superb images
The first German reconnaissance satellite in the SAR-Lupe system has been orbiting the earth for exactly one month now. Over the past few days, it has repeatedly generated high-resolution radar images, thus proving its full operability.
“We are very proud of the superb results which we have achieved with this, the first SAR-Lupe satellite,” says Prof. Manfred Fuchs, CEO of OHB-System AG. The Bremen-based space technology company is the main contractor for the SAR-Lupe system.
The first of a total of five radar satellites was launched on board a Russian COSMOS 3M on December 19, 2006 and placed in a low-earth orbit at an altitude of 500 kilometers. “Everything from the launch to the generation of the radar images has gone off without a hitch,” adds Fuchs. Shortly after being launched, the satellite started transmitting via the Kerguelen ground station in the Southern Indian Ocean. After merely an hour it was clear that the satellite was stable in its planned orbit and ready and able to receive commands. This was followed by comprehensive testing of the individual satellite subsystems. One of the initial highlights was the successful maneuver to fold out the antenna boom, being the only movable element of the satellite which must be positioned correctly. This maneuver was completed successfully two days after the launch. A further milestone in activating the satellite entailed the initial attitude control maneuvers shortly before the end of the year to prepare for the first imaging activities.
On January 8, 2007, the satellite control was handed over from DLR-GSOC to the military ground station, which then proceeded to activate the radar system for generating SAR images. Only the German Federal Armed Forces’ ground station in Gelsdorf is able to task the satellite and receive the resultant images. The first SAR-Lupe radar image was received from the orbiting satellite last Friday. As of yesterday evening, images in all the planned modes and resolutions had been generated.
This demonstrates that the entire imaging chain, comprising the ground segment functions, attitude control of the satellite, the radar transmitter and receiver, data transfer to the ground and also image processing, is working properly. The quality of the images fully lives up to expectations.
“The satellite is working very well and we are more than satisfied with the images which we have received,” says Wolfgang Perkert, project manager for the customer, the German Federal Office of Defense Technology and Procurement (BWB), who satisfied himself of the success of the project in Gelsdorf in the middle of this week.
The next SAR-Lupe satellite is scheduled to enter its low-earth orbit in July, with the entire system to be up and running by 2008.