German research organisation DLR and Astrium are to develop the 1m (3.3ft) resolution TerraSAR-X radar mapping satellite which will be launched in 2005. Images from the satellite are to be marketed exclusively by Astrium subsidiary Infoterra, with Astrium forecasting that income from the satellite imagery could total g40 million ($35 million) a year by 2010.

DLR will provide g102 million of the g130 million development cost, with the remaining g28 million coming from Astrium.

TerraSAR-X, which will fly in a 500km (300-mile) polar orbit, will weigh 1,023kg (2,250lb), including a 394kg payload. It will be 5m high and 2.3m in diameter, with a 4.8m-long SAR antenna. Launch is planned on a Kosmotras Dnepr booster.

By 2007, it is planned that TerraSAR-X will be part of an extended network using L-band communication services provided by a satellite to be developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), if funding is approved.

Originally known as TerraSAR-L, this was to have been part of ESA's Earth Watch programme, which failed to get funding.

Source: Flight International