AAC Hyperion in on Europe’s first SSA satellite

29th Jan 2023
AAC Hyperion in on Europe’s first SSA satellite

With increasing numbers of satellites being sent up into space, keeping track of objects is becoming more important than ever before. Because of this, Europe will be building its first space situational awareness satellite to geostationary orbit (GEO) soon. A subsidiary of Glasgow-based AAC Clyde Space, AAC Hyperion, will be involved in designing the bus and create components for the satellite. The satellite will launch into GEO in 2026 to keep watch of other orbiting objects.

The satellite contract was awarded by the European Defence Fund, and it is set to be the first European GEO satellite for situational awareness.

Naucrates the satellite

According to the statement by AAC Clyde Space released on 26th January, AAC Hyperion will develop a satellite less than 100 kg, called Naucrates, that will be untraceable from ground radars, and optical or radio telescopes.

Besides providing components for the prototype and participating in developing the satellite bus, – the main body of the spacecraft – AAC Hyperion will be involved with the satellite’s integration and testing. The company expects it to stay in orbit for up to five years after it is launched into space by the upcoming Ariane 6 rocket slated to debut in 2023.

AAC Hyperion and a critical role

At almost 36,000 kilometers altitude, geostationary satellites orbit above the equator from west to east in the same rotation as Earth, making the spacecraft look ‘stationary’. With the increase in military and commercial satellites in GEO, surveillance capabilities are becoming far more crucial, and AAC Hyperion hopes to deliver this capability.

Hyperion says the spacecraft will be in a stable orbit outside the GEO belt in order to not disturb other satellites but will be able to approach other objects nearby to capture centimeter-level resolution images. The satellite will operate an optical telescope using infrared for image transmission to “minimize eavesdropping possibilities”, the company stated.

AAC Clyde Space CEO Luis Gomes said: “We are proud to be part of this cutting-edge project, that will advance the capabilities of small satellites even further, while contributing to a safer orbital environment”.

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