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The EagleEye Mission is the beginning of a new era for the Polish space sector

INDUSTRIESThe EagleEye Mission is the beginning of a new era for the Polish space sector

This year will see the launch of the biggest and most advanced satellite in the history of Poland. EagleEye, developed by Creotech Instruments, Scanway, and the Polish Academy of Sciences’ Space Research Center, was built on the HyperSat platform, aimed to facilitate various space missions. The platform is already a crucial element of numerous national and European civil and defense projects. The launch of this year’s mission will significantly accelerate the ongoing process of platform commercialization. The EagleEye satellite, made in Poland with local companies’ involvement, enhances national competence in creating small satellites and marks a milestone for the growth of the Polish space sector. The project opens up the rapidly growing and profitable market of designing, constructing, integrating, and launching small satellites to native entities.

Despite the fast-growing value of the space market, only eight capital groups in Europe have proven capability to create satellites weighing over 50 kg. The main barrier to entry is the high engineering complexity.

“The groundbreaking nature of the EagleEye mission is highlighted by the fact that the weight of our satellite is comparable to the weight of all Polish satellites built since the beginning of our country’s participation in space exploration. EagleEye will weigh over 50 kg and, besides our HyperSat platform, will also test the first Polish high-resolution Earth imaging system by Scanway and an instrument computer developed by the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The mission is of significant importance not only to Creotech but also other consortium members and the whole Polish space sector. We’re opening doors to the rapidly growing profitable market of designing, constructing, integrating, and launching small satellites weighing more than 50 kg,” comments Grzegorz Brona, CEO of Creotech Instruments S.A.

EagleEye Mission

EagleEye is the first designed and constructed satellite in Poland weighing more than 50 kg. It places Poland among a select group of nations capable of creating such advanced space systems for domestic needs, the European Space Agency, or commercial customers from around the globe.

The unique feature of the EagleEye mission is its ability to operate in a Very Low Earth Orbit (VLEO). Although this will result in better image quality of Earth but at the cost of overcoming various engineering challenges. Engineers working on EagleEye have designed the satellite to use propulsion, ensuring constant precision of platform orientation and maintaining orbit altitude.

Creotech Instruments, as the consortium leader, is responsible for the entire EagleEye mission, including the preparation of the HyperSat satellite platform and its components, satellite integration as well as its launch. The company also ensures communication once the satellite is in orbit. The EagleEye is equipped with a precise optical telescope made by Scanway S.A., and the instrument computer developed by the Polish Academy of Sciences’ Space Research Center.

The HyperSat satellite platform, which forms the basis of the EagleEye mission, was started in 2017 as a response by Creotech Instruments to the demand of the rapidly developing small satellites segment. The company plans to service satellites weighing up to 200 kg in the next few years, opening the door to a much higher margin market segment.

“The EagleEye project, even before its launch, marks a milestone in the development of the Polish space sector and contributes to job creation in the high-tech industry. National ability to build advanced civilian and military satellites aligns with the long-term direction of Poland’s space sector development; it also allows for building Made in Poland constellations and developing a nationwide network of companies supplying necessary components for national satellite construction value chain. The HyperSat platform could be used for not only optical missions but also radar, communication, related to 5G and the Internet of Things, scientific, security, defense ones, as well as those related to orbital logistics,” adds Grzegorz Brona.

The HyperSat platform is already gaining a lot of interest among customers. It was chosen by German firm OHB for a mission of a test refueling satellite in orbit. The European Space Agency (ESA) assigned Creotech Instruments Phase 0-A for the second large European lunar mission after a 20 years hiatus. Its aim is to map natural resources on the moon. This mission will also be executed by a satellite based on the HyperSat platform. The platform is to become a standard in the project of the European Defense Fund REACTS, aimed at creating European capabilities for a rapid response in the event of a crisis. It is also a basis for domestic missions, such as PIAST, or potential future constellations for the army.

Creotech Instruments identifies a total of at least several potential customers, among them international institutions and commercial entities, interested in the use of the HyperSat platform to realize their missions in space.

Small Satellite Market

According to a report by BryceTech, a staggering 96% of all objects sent into space by humans in 2022 were small satellites— objects weighing below 600 kg dominating the market in recent years. They are significantly cheaper than their much larger and more complicated predecessors while offering functionality that keeps pace with large satellites, thanks to advancements in electronics miniaturization, advanced imaging systems, operates at lower orbits, and the use of artificial intelligence algorithms.

“Small satellites provide a high level of security as shown by the use of orbital data and internet satellite connectivity during the war in Ukraine. Thanks to the low production cost, armed forces can operate larger constellations within the same budgets, ensuring faster access to precise imaging of crucial terrain, continuous connectivity in case of threats, and constant electronic and radio signals intelligence of the enemy. This category allows more advanced missions than smaller CubeSats while maintaining small dimensions and price, further reduced by the introduction of serial production,” says Marcin Mazur, EagleEye Project Manager at Creotech Instruments.

The small satellites market (smallsats) reached the value of $30 billion from 2013 to 2022, and it is projected to reach $111 billion by the end of 2032 according to data from Euroconsult. An average of more than 2600 satellites will be launched to orbit annually during the decade from 2023 to 2032, which equates to over seven small satellites every day.

Small satellites belong to a class of space objects that include Starlink satellites by SpaceX for satellite internet connectivity, OneWeb satellites by Planet Labs for optical Earth imaging, and navigation satellites belonging to Spire. Small satellites are beginning to be used for precision Earth observation in visible light and also in the infrared spectrum or using radars. They also provide global radio connectivity with ships and planes.

[1] https://brycetech.com/reports/report-documents/Bryce_Smallsats_2023.pdf
[2] https://www.euroconsult-ec.com/press-release/smallsat-market-keeps-growing-despite-supply-challenges-and-starlink-moving-to-larger-form-factors/

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