High resolution satellite imagery opens up a vital new perspective to users around the world.
The third satellite to be manufactured by the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Centre, KhalifaSat was originally known as DubaiSat-3, but in honour of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum chose to rename the project.
KhalifaSat is the first satellite to be 100% developed by Emirati engineers. Phase One of the development commenced under the leadership of UAE nationals based in South Korea, and once the MBRSC clean rooms and necessary ground station, tracking and monitoring facilities were constructed in the UAE, all further development, manufacture and testing was moved to the space centre in Dubai.
The four year programme to develop KhalifaSat began in earnest in 2013, and when complete, the satellite will boast imaging capabilities at a Ground Sampling Distance of 0.7m panchromatic and 4m in multispectral bands, allowing access to some of the highest resolution images in the industry, for governmental and private entities across the world. Much of the project scope has been to ensure KhalifaSat images are positioned amongst the highest resolution and quality commercially available anywhere in the world, providing an invaluable resource of scientific and research data.
The data imagery provided by UAE-engineered satellites already provides a vital source of instant information and reference suitable for numerous projects to many entities within the UAE and further afield. This offering will expand in terms of reach and quality when KhalifaSat becomes operational. Applications for the imagery will encompass monitoring, analysis and forecasting, as well as managing resources and activities globally. KhalifaSat images provided by MBRSC will be used in some of the following ways:
MBRSC is able to offer the option to specifically task any of its satellites in order to meet specific project demands.
KhalifaSat will eventually be capable of delivering customised 3D imagery at varying tilt angles in a time period of three days, although this is dependent upon the satellite’s position at the time of the request for task completion.
3d imagery provision is a rapidly developing field in planetary surface imaging, providing the end user with the opportunity to view a landscape or cityscape as it appears in real time, and from a variety of elevated viewpoints.
Once extracted, these images can then be incorporated into computer models to examine in detail how new buildings will integrate into the skyline, to manage traffic flows along major highways, or to consider the impact of flightpaths on existing urban developments.
KhalifaSat will provide the following image products, depending upon requirements:
KhalifaSat will be placed into a Low Earth Orbit at an altitude of 613km. The satellite will then provide extremely high definition images of 0.75m, which places it in the upper tier of Earth Observation satellites. KhalifaSat has been developed from the blueprint of DubaiSat-2, featuring a hexagonally shaped body and four deployable solar panels.
The satellite’s coordinate system is defined in the following way:
+X is defined directly along the TDI scanning orientation of the KhalifaSat Camera System (KHCS), the satellite’s singular and primary payload, normal to the detector line.
+Z is then aligned with the optical axis of KHCS, while +Y is the direction of one of the deployed solar panels, which is directed perpendicular to +X and +Z. The coordinate’s origin is defined from the centre of the adaptor.
The spacecraft bus comprises two separate decks, along with an upper sun shield, which offers protection to the cold propellants from Earth and solar radiation. The electronic components are distributed on both decks and the side panels. The bus structure frame is made up of longerons and rails. Then on the top of the satellite, CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer) struts will hold the sun shield in place at the baffle of KHCS. KHCS will be attached to the bus of the internal deck. The mechanical configuration of the KhalifaSat will be have a height of less than 2 metres and a diameter of less than 1.5 metres. Upon completion, the total mass of the spacecraft will be approximately 350 kg.
In March 2015, EIAST (now MBRSC) awarded a contract to MHI (Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd.) for launch services for the KhalifaSat earth observation satellite.
KhalifaSat’s planned orbit is sun-synchronous at an altitude of 613km, with an inclination of exactly 97.13º.
KhalifaSat is scheduled for an early-2018 launch on the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries-owned H-IIA launch vehicle, from TNSC (Tanegashima Launch Centre) in Japan. The launch mission will also carry GOSAT-2 of JAXA.