16 Sep 2014
First commercial order for '502 Phoenix' small satellites will produce high-res spectral data.
Boeing says that it has received the first order for its 502 Phoenix small satellites, after a booking was made by hyperspectral imaging data provider HySpecIQ.
Once the low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites are launched and generating spectral information – delivery is anticipated in 2018 – Boeing will manage sales, processing and distribution of hyperspectral imagery to the US government intelligence services, Department of Defense and international partner customers. Washington, DC, based HySpecIQ will look after all civil and commercial customers.
The order, for two satellites initially, is expected to result in the first high-resolution hyperspectral payload for commercial remote sensing applications. “[It will be] capable of providing spectral imaging fidelity that far exceeds what is currently available,” claimed Boeing.
The order came as HySpecIQ, which is positioning itself as the first commercial provider of high-resolution hyperspectral information from space, also said that it had closed its initial round of funding.
Joseph Fargnoli, the firm’s executive VP of product development, said that HySpecIQ planned to “unlock the potential of high-resolution hyperspectral data with proprietary analytics to create high value information products for clients”.
The capability should enable HySpecIQ to deliver a range of information products to large commercial markets such as the global oil and gas industry, as well as mining, agriculture and environmental monitoring.
“The ability to serve these markets using satellite technology offers tremendous benefits heretofore impractical, including lower data collection and processing costs, more frequent revisit capabilities, access to denied territories and detailed environmental monitoring,” Fargnoli added.
200 spectral bands
Craig Cooning, president of the aerospace giant’s network and space systems business, said in a statement: “Our 502 Phoenix is well-suited for a range of missions that includes electro-optical imaging and remote sensing, space situational awareness and satellite communications.”
The data on offer from Boeing and HySpecIQ will be based on more than 200 spectral colors in the visible and shortwave infrared (SWIR) spectra, and should prove valuable across the various commercial sectors being targeted.
Hyperspectral data collected by more conventional means are already being used to monitor vineyards and map the distribution of minerals, while the delayed "SUCHI" (Space Ultra-Compact Hyperspectral Imager) satellite will be used to monitor gaseous emissions from the Hawaiian volcano Kilauea.
William Sullivan, HySpecIQ’s founder and executive chairman, said: “Boeing’s in-depth experience in hosting electro-optical payloads, coupled with its unmatched record in the delivery of commercial space systems, was the deciding factor in this award.”
“Working closely with Boeing’s team will allow us to bring forward a technical design with unparalleled remote sensing capability that will set a new standard in this industry.”
Based on Boeing’s “Phantom Phoenix” prototype, the satellites are being developed by the company’s Phantom Works subsidiary and will be built at sites across the US.