Creotech Instruments S.A. (consortium leader), Scanway Sp. z o. o. and the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) are working together on EagleEye, Poland’s first earth observation microsatellite. The microsatellite will be placed in a low orbit and will provide a 1-meter high-resolution imagery of the Earth. A technical dialogue with potential rocket suppliers and launch service providers to insert the satellite into an optimal operational orbit is already underway. The satellite is scheduled to be launched to low Earth orbit in 2023.
EagleEye is a 50-kilogram satellite based on the HyperSat microsatellite platform in development by Creotech Instruments engineers since 2017 as part of a program financed by the National Center for Research and Development (NCBR). The platform’s main elements include an on-board computer, attitude and orbit control system (AOCS), power distribution system, high-capacity telecommunications system, structure and solar cells. All these modules are being developed in Poland, which is critical in the context of the platform’s anticipated applications in future programs concerning Poland’s national security and defense. In June 2021, HyperSat successfully passed endurance tests in a thermal-vacuum chamber at the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences (PAN) and is currently undergoing vibration tests simulating a rocket launch.
As part of work on the EagleEye satellite, the HyperSat platform will be equipped with an optical telescope developed by Poland’s Scanway Sp. z o. o. and a computer subsystem provided by the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The telescope will make the satellite capable of obtaining images with a resolution of one meter in the visible and infrared bands, while AI-based algorithms will enable image quality to be enhanced even further. Thanks to innovative design solutions, the entire telescope will be able maintain stable thermal operation in the conditions of space thus satisfying the stringent international requirements related to image quality. Currently, the telescope is in the final stages of design work, and will be manufactured and tested by the end of this year.
In 2020, Scanway Sp. z o. o., completed its EU-funded R&D project seeking to develop a technology for the design and construction of powerful telescopes for small satellites. With PCO S.A. (a member of Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa, a state-owned defense industry holding company) as a partner, the project successfully delivered state-of-the-art optics.
It is expected that the EagleEye mission profile will be finalized in September after the environmental tests of the HyperSat platform are concluded. It has already been decided that on top of testing a method for the acquisition of sub-metric resolution imagery, the mission will also involve orbital maneuvers. The HyperSat platform is adapted to work with a system of small rocket engines under development by the Łukasiewicz Institute of Aviation in collaboration with Creotech Instruments S.A.
The EagleEye project is managed to the quality requirements developed by NASA, implemented by the European Space Agency and according to ECSS (European Cooperation for Space Standardization) standards. Creotech Instruments has already successfully completed over 15 projects for the European Space Agency in line with the above requirements. The subsystems produced by the company were used in 12 space missions, including in ExoMars-2016, a Martian orbiter, and the International Space Station, and in 2023 will fly on a mission to Jupiter. Furthermore, Creotech Instruments collects and processes data originating from all EU observation satellites as part of the CreoDIAS cloud infrastructure for the European Commission. The experience gained in this project will be used in the preparation for the 2023 mission.
The EagleEye project also involves the preparation of test procedures by the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences with a view to enable the future serial production of such satellites and their implementation in Earth-imaging constellations. The Center is also expanding its test infrastructure.
With the launch of the EagleEye satellite into orbit in 2023, the Polish space sector industry and scientific institutions will reach full capacity to manufacture and implement complete Earth observation microsatellites (weighing 10-100 kg).
The EagleEye satellite project is carried out under the Intelligent Development Operational Program and is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. Initiated in mid-2020, the purpose of the project is to cater to growing market demand.