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Creating Persistent Surveillance with VLEO Satellite



Prime contractor
Organisational Unit
Activity Type
03 May 2024

Duration: 12 months


Our vision is to use a large constellation of Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO) satellites to create the long sought 'Persistent Surveillance' capability needed by government, military, commercial and scientific communities. In this study, Media Lario, Skeyeon and Thales Alenia Space Italy will use demonstrated VLEO technologies, that we possess, to define the satellite and the constellation mission delivering 1 m resolution, <1 h revisit, low latency and low cost images. The proposed satellite includes key VLEO technologies developed by Skeyeon, comprising atomic oxygen resistant materials, low-drag satellite shape and material coatings, compact and inexpensive electric propulsion for 2-3 year missions, high bandwidth, real-time RF links, and a 1 m resolution optical telescope compressed into a 10 cm high pancake design. The VLEO satellite is a highly integrated system approximately 25 cm wide, 15 cm tall, and 1 m long with two pancake telescopes based on an innovative optical design called Concentric Folded Lens characterized by multiple reflections in concentric optics. A constellation of 100’s-1,000’s of these vehicles will generate high resolution images at <1 hour re-image rates delivering the 'Persistent Surveillance' capability that the commercial customers we’ve spoken to are looking for. They need at least 10x cost reduction and at least daily updates to become widespread consumers of satellite imagery. This vision targets an initial on-orbit vehicle cost of €1M, reducing to €500k in volume. Not only will this be an Earth Observation game changer, it also solves the space debris problem, since the VLEO vehicles will operate in ‘uncontested’ orbits that are 100’s of km below LEO satellites, with an expected unpowered de-orbit time of weeks.

Contract number
OSIP Idea Id
Related OSIP Campaign
VLEO - New ideas for the nearest of outer space
Main application area
Creating Persistent Surveillance with VLEO Satellite