Arianespace announced today that it has been selected by exactEarth to launch the ESAIL satellite using a Vega as part of the launcher’s Small Spacecraft Mission Service (SSMS) Proof of Concept (POC) flight.
It is the final contract signed by Arianespace for this POC flight, which is now completely booked with 42 payloads onboard.
The ESAIL satellite will be launched in a Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) at an altitude of 515 km. on a Vega SSMS rideshare flight in 2019 from the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana.
exactEarth is a leading provider of global AIS (Automatic Identification System) maritime vessel data for ship tracking and maritime situational awareness solutions. Using world-leading satellite vessel detection technology – combined with the most advanced constellation of AIS satellites – exactEarth delivers the highest quality real-time information to customers around the world.
The ESAIL microsatellite has a mass of 110 kg. and features an enhanced multiple antenna-receiver configuration for global detection of AIS messages and high-resolution spectrum capture, which will enable the demonstration of advanced future services such as VDES (VHF Data Exchange System) message reception.
After launch and commissioning, the ESAIL satellite will be integrated into exactEarth’s global constellation – which currently consists of more than 60 high-performance maritime monitoring payloads.
The ESAIL satellite was supported by European Space Agency (ESA – ESTEC) through the ARTES 21 SAT-AIS (SATellite Automatic Identification System) program, and was developed and built by a European manufacturing team led by the satellite prime contractor Luxspace.
Vega’s POC flight will be the first mission for SSMS – a program initiated by ESA in 2016 with the contribution of the European Commission. For all European partners involved, its purpose is to perfectly address the burgeoning microsatellite market for both institutional and commercial needs with a new rideshare concept on the Vega light-lift launcher.
Vega is part of the Arianespace launcher family, along with the Ariane 5 heavy launcher and the medium-lift Soyuz; all three are operated from the Guiana Space Center. The industrial prime contractor for Vega is Avio, based in Colleferro, Italy.
“exactEarth is happy to collaborate with Arianespace and participate in the Vega SSMS mission to deploy the ESAIL satellite,” said Peter Mabson, the exactEarth CEO. “We would also like to thank ESA and the supporting national delegates and the Luxspace team for helping to create this advanced technology microsatellite and we look forward to adding it to our global fleet.”
Following the signature of this contract, Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace, said: “We are thrilled to welcome exactEarth among our customers and as the last passenger coming aboard the Vega SSMS POC flight, which is now completely booked. Everything is now set for this summer’s targeted launch of the first Arianespace mission dedicated to rideshare! Arianespace will keep on offering competitive solutions to all satellites regardless of their masses and volumes, to the benefit of a better life on Earth.”