Surrey Satellite Technology (SSTL) of the UK has signed an agreement with the Algerian National Centre for Space Technology to jointly develop a microsatellite called Al Satl.

Algeria becomes the first country to formally join a planned international Disaster Monitoring Constellation (DMC) led by SSTL, which will eventually comprise five microsatellites in low Earth orbit, providing customers with daily imaging.

The British National Space Centre (BNSC) awarded SSTL funding for one DMC microsatellite in July and a further three countries are expected to join the DMC within the next two months.

One of the countries is expected to be China, which has already worked with the SSTL on the Tsinghua microsatellite. Tsinghua, which was launched on a Cosmos 3M booster on 28 June, is ademonstrator satellite for the DMC system (Flight International, 4-10 July).

The BNSC contract was part of the Micro Satellite Applications in Collaboration (MOSAIC) programme. It will part-fund initial demonstration missions in partnership with UK companies and users to stimulate the development of small satellite technologies to ensure the UK's lead in this market area. The UK Government is providing $24 million to this effort.

With the Al Satl agreement, Algeria has also become the 11th country to join SSTL in a joint venture enabling international engineers to undertake academic courses at the Surrey Space Centre as part of the programme.

n RapidEye of Munich, Germany, and SSTL have issued a request for proposals for the launch of the RapidEye four-satellite constellation in 2002. The SSTL Minisatellite-based spacecraft will be used for agricultural monitoring.

Source: Flight International