ClientEuropean Space Agency (ESA)

SAT-AIS-PL – the first Polish industrial satellite


The Automated Identification System (AIS) is a close range shore system that tracks ships and prevents their collisions. The horizontal range of the AIS system is 74 kilometres (40 nautical miles), which means that a ship further than that will not receive a signal from another ship or shore station due to Earth's horizon curvature.


An idea to use satellites for gathering and transmitting AIS data to ships and shore stations further than the AIS horizontal range was born. Thanks to the use of satellites the safety of maritime traffic was greatly increased.

Our involvement

Our company took control of a scientific-industrial consortium. As the leader we serve the role of prime contractor and system integrator.

Creotech Instruments has taken lead of a consortium with the goal of creating a Polish commercial satellite, SAT–AI–PL, for use in tracking sea vessels.

The SAT-AIS-PL program has the goal of developing, building and placing in Earth orbit of a Polish satellite of the AIS (Automatic Identification System) together with a ground Telemetry, Tracking and Control (TT&C) station and an interface enabling the distribution of data to defined end users. SAT-AIS-PL is a satellite system of monitoring maritime traffic which gathers information from the automated ship identification system(AIS) for safety and maritime traffic administration purposes. The SAT-AIS-PL satellite will be the first Polish industrial satellite the production of which has been assigned to a scientific-industrial consortium led by Creotech Instruments S.A., in accordance with norms used by the European Space Agency. The SAT-AIS-PL satellite system will consist of the following elements:

  • A satellite of a mass of around 40 kg with a receiver for signals from AIS transmitters located on water vessels and a VDES module.
  • A ground communication station in Poland.
  • A centre of flight control and steering, also located in Poland.
  • AIS data terminals providing data to users.

Potential users of data from the system are Maritime Administrators, Sea Rescue services, The Polish Army, or Border Guard. All ground elements of the system infrastructure are planned to be located in Poland.

Work on the Polish AIS satellite segment began in 2014 with the realisation of the introductory feasibility study (POL-SAT-AIS project) ordered by the European Space Agency as part of the Polish Industry Incentive Scheme consortium of scientific institutions:

  1. National Institute of Telecommunications – the State Research Institute (project leader)
  2. Gdynia Maritime University
  3. Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences (CBK PAN)

The study has been positively assessed by ESA and by the Interministerial Group for Space Policy in Poland, that made the decision of the next stage of work under the name of SAT-AIS-PL and ordering it to a scientific-industrial consortium, which has, since February 2015, been led by Creotech Instruments S.A. We perform the role of the prime contractor and system integrator.

The SAT-AIS-PL project will be realised by the scientific-industrial consortium consisting of:

  • Creotech Instruments S.A. (project leader)
  • Hertz Systems Ltd Sp. z o.o.
  • Atos Polska S.A.
  • Space Research Centre of the Polish Academy of Sciences (CBK PAN)
  • National Institute of Telecommunications – the State Research Institute
  • Gdynia Maritime University
  • Silesian Science and Technology Centre of Aviation Sp. z o. o.

The project is realised by commission from the European Space Agency, which we are a member state of since 2012, and will take at least 7 years to finish. The framework work schedule is as follows:

  • 2016-17 – 0/A/B1 phase – designing the satellite mission, building the subsystem demonstrators.
  • 2018-20 – B2/C/D/E1 phase – designing the system, building and launching the satellite.
  • 2020-2022 – E2/F phase – the operational phase of the system and bringing the satellite back from orbit after it finishes its task.

The Automated Identification System is a close range shoreline system for tracking ships and avoiding their collisions. It was developed to identify and deliver information about the location of ships and shore stations. AIS transponders automatically send out this information at regular intervals. Identification and navigational data are sent every 2 to 180 seconds, depending on ship activity. AIS signals are received by devices installed on other ships and shore stations. The AIS System is a requirement for all ships of a buoyancy of over 300 tonnes sailing on international waters, all freight ships with a buoyancy of over 500 tonnes sailing on national waters, and all passenger crafts.


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