A joint team from Surrey Satellite Technology, Nigeria and Turkey have completed the preparation, test and integration of three new spacecraft as part of the Disaster Monitoring Constellation and are scheduled for launch onboard a Kosmos rocket at 06:11 GMT on Friday 26 September 2003. The three spacecraft are: BILSAT for Turkish customer Tubitak-ODTU Bilten, NigeriaSat-1 for Nigerian customer National Space Research & Development Agency and UK-DMC funded by the UK Government. Each spacecraft has passed through a rigorous testing process covering all flight equipment to ensure that they remain in full flight readiness following their transit from SSTL at the Surrey Space Centre in the UK to the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. The joint SSTL, Nigerian and Turkish launch team have concluded tests on all payloads, gathering and analyising data to ensure that each system is fully operational and ready for launch. Each of the onboard batteries have been trickle-charged to full power and the propulsion tanks filled with butane, having mounted each spacecraft on a special jig to enable the filling process.
Electro-initiators on each spacecraft to separate from the launch vehicle have been prepared and full checks carried out with the Kosmos launch vehicle to ensure that electrical interfaces are compatible to provide sufficient power for proper operation of the separation systems. The upcoming launch is scheduled for 06:09 GMT on Friday, 26 September 2003 with a live satellite link across Europe via Eutelsat W2. The launch this month will complete the first phase of the constellation, kicked-off last November with the launch of AlSAT-1 for SSTL’s Algerian customer, Centre National des Techniques Spatiales and the Algerian Space Agency. AlSAT-1 is full operational and demonstrating the DMC spacecraft’s remarkable capability by return outstanding Earth observation imagery.
The DMC will provide daily imaging at 32m resolution and up to a 600km swath across the world, enabling rapid repeat imaging for regular updates of disaster situations – something not achievable by any other commercial satellite currently in orbit. An enhanced DMC satellite for China, currently under construction at SSTL at the Surrey Space Centre, will join the DMC when it is launched in early 2005.