Aeronautics acquires radar satellite for $ 33 million

The Department of Aerospace Science and Technology (DCTA), an agency subordinated to the Aeronautical Command (COMAER) published in the Official Gazette (DOU) of the last December 22, the Bidding Dispensation Extract No. 1/2020, on ” Acquisition of a Remote Sensing System “, in the amount of  US $ 33,874,000.00 (thirty-three million eight hundred seventy-four thousand US dollars),  with the Finnish company  ICEYE. 

This satellite is, unless mistaken, the same that would be (theoretically) acquired by the Management and Operational Center of the Amazon Protection System (Censipam), which generated all the controversy reported in our article “The Radar of Discord I, II and III “(see here ).
With the value in reais in the order of  R $  176,600,000.00 (one hundred and seventy-six million and six hundred thousand reais) , with today’s exchange rate at US $ 1 <=> R $ 5.21, we are confirming the information with the COMAER communication area to provide more details about the acquisition.
However, we know that ICEYE currently has 3 models of synthetic aperture radar satellites ( Synthetic-aperture radar – SAR) :
– Series  ICEYE-X1:  It is a proof of concept equipment, known as the first SAR in the microsatellite class.

  • Class: Microsatellite;
  • Mass: 70 kg;
  • Dimensions: 0.7 m (H) × 0.6 m (W) × 0.4 m (D); 
  • Payload: SAR Band X;
  • Antenna length: 3.25 m;
  • Power: 1.5 to 1.7 kW;
  • Image resolution: 10m;
  • Orbit:
    • Type: Polar heliosynchronous;
    • Inclination: 97.56 °; 
    • Altitude: 494 km × 506 km;
  • Shelf life: 2 to 3 years.

– Series  ICEYE-X2:  It is an improved commercial version of the X1, aimed at improving SAR performance, with a power twice as great as its predecessor.

  • Class: Microsatellite;
  • Mass: 85 kg;
  • Dimensions: 0.8 m (H) × 0.8 m (W) × 0.6 m (D); 
  • Payload: SAR Band X;
  • Antenna length 😕 m;
  • Power: 4 kW +;
  • Image resolution: Submetric;
  • Orbit: 
    • Type: Polar heliosynchronous;
    • Inclination: 97.77 °; 
    • Altitude: 570 km × 587 km;
  • Shelf life: 2 to 3+ years.

ICEYE-X3 “Harbinger”:  It is a variant for military purposes with electric field effect propulsion and high-rate laser communication features, whose payload operations require a peak power of 3 kW. 

  • Class: Mini satellite;
  • Mass: 150 kg;
  • Dimensions 😕 m (H) ×? m (W) ×? m (D); 
  • Payload: SAR Band X and low resolution optical camera;
  • Antenna length 😕 m;
  • Power: 3 kW;
  • Image resolution: Submetric;
  • Orbit:
    • Type: Low slope and high revisit for low latitudes;
    • Inclination: 40 °; 
    • Altitude: 494 km × 506 km;
  • Shelf life: 3 years.

The ICEYE own constellation, with a total of 18 satellites launched by 2021, will provide an average 3-hour revisit interval around the globe to observe sea ice movements, sea oil spills and illegal fishing vessels.

In this sense, considering the acquisition of the satellite by the FAB, considering they are Band X satellites and the applications listed above, presented by ICEYE itself, we believe that the acquisition made by the FAB should not be applied for monitoring the Amazon (via SAR Band L), as it had been announced when the possible acquisition for Censipam, but, probably, for the monitoring of our coastline and our exclusive economic zone or our base in Antarctica and the sea routes to it.

In terms of costs, we believe that, depending on the satellite model / series (X2 or X3), the values ​​of the same vary between $ 7 to 16 million and the launch cost is between $ 3 to 7 million, which would give, for a single satellite, the approximate value (with the launch) of $ 10 million for X2 and $ 23 million for X3.

Thus, with a contract of  US $ 33,874,000, we believe that the  US $ 23 million (for X2) or  US $ 10 million (for X3) will be used for the implantation of soil structures, processing, training, etc.

In the case of the acquisition of X2, this could include a second satellite, which would still be within the total contract value.

Let’s wait for the answers to the question we asked COMAER.

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