US: UrtheCast and NanoRacks have announced that they will install two more sensors on the NASA segment of the International Space Station (ISS) to expand its Earth Observation data stream.
UrtheCast intends to develop two sensors — a high resolution dual-mode optical/video camera and a high resolution dual-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) — which will complement its current sensors aboard the ISS. The company claims that the co-location of these sensors will allow for ‘new EO products that are not currently available to the market’. The sensors and their components are scheduled to launch to the ISS in 2016, and it is anticipated that the data will be available in 2017.
Scott Larson, CEO, UrtheCast said, "Having additional sensors on the International Space Station not only mitigates our technology risk, but also adds to our current suite of cameras aboard the Station, improving upon the quality and quantity of data that we can offer our customers.
"These sensors will help augment NASA's efforts to more fully utilise the International Space Station as a National Lab, while enabling more private sector participation," commented Michael Read, NASA manager of the ISS National Lab Office.
UrtheCast also revealed that installation and operation of sensors on the NASA module of the ISS will result in additional development costs. The company anticipates funding these development costs over the next three years from a combination of non-dilutive third party funding, available cash and internal cash flow. The company also shared that it is currently in an advanced stage of negotiation on a long-term contract that, if successfully concluded, would provide a substantial source of non-dilutive financing for the additional sensors.
In a separate announcement, UrtheCast confirmed that its Medium-Resolution Camera (MRC or Theia) has completed its commissioning phase. The company also told media that its Ultra HD, High-Resolution Camera (HRC or Iris) is still being calibrated. However, the Bi-axial Pointing Platform, which controls the pointing of the HRC, is experiencing difficulties in achieving the pointing control precision needed to meet image quality specifications.