This is the first Spanish spy satellite, which will be launched this Sunday by SpaceX.
On February 21 at 3:17 p.m. Spanish time, SpaceX is scheduled to take off from Vandenberg Air Base in California. In it a Falcon 9 will be launched, which will put the ‘Paz’ satellite designed by the Spanish government into orbit Through Hidesat, a Spanish private communications company that has also provided its services to the Ministry of Defense since 2001.
From the beginning it has been considered a spy satellite, although it will also have scientific and civil applications. It is part of the ‘National Earth Observation Program’ approved in July 2007, and with it Spain will join the select group of countries with autonomous earth observation capability. It has been built by Airbus Defense and Space, will be operated by Hidesat, and has various systems intended for military, scientific and commercial applications.
Fifteen daily orbits and three image modes
Paz is a hexagonal satellite of 1,450 kg, 5 meters in length, and a cost of 160 million euros. It will be in low Earth orbit, about 514 kilometers high, and its main instrument is a synthetic aperture radar (SAR). With the map the earth in three dimensions, and you will be one of the first to combine this data with a sophisticated Automatic Identification System (AIS), allowing you to perform the best possible monitoring of the global maritime environment.
The satellite will carry out its mission for five and a half years. At that time, will perform 15 daily orbits around the earth, with which it will cover an area of more than 300,000 square kilometers at a speed of seven kilometers per second, obtaining 100 very high resolution images every 24 hours.
These images can be taken regardless of weather conditions, both day and night, and will allow surveillance and mapping operations with three different modes. On the one hand, there will be a Stripmap mode with images of 50×30 km and up to 3 meters of resolution, a Spotlight with 5×5 and 10×10 kilometers with one meter of resolution, and Scansar with images of 150×100 km and up to 18 meters.
Paz will also carry out an experiment developed by a team from the Institut de Ciències de l’Espai (IEEC-CSIC), and with which the concealment of radio frequency signals in their two polarizations will be measured for the first time. Your ultimate goal will be to improve predictions of atmospheric behaviors, such as rains and floods, and have more time to take the measures that are necessary to avoid the possible disasters that they can cause.
To do this, the experiment will allow us to see how GPS signals are hidden as they pass through the atmosphere. In doing so, the changes in the signal produced by the atmospheric phenomena themselves will be analyzed. They will mainly measure extreme rains that occur in the context of climate change, which will allow you to obtain data that will be very valuable to be able to make better climate models for the extreme phenomena that will occur more and more frequently.
In the future, Paz will be joined by a second satellite called Ingenio, which will complement your information by obtaining optical images. When both projects were presented in 2007, both were expected to be operational in space by 2012. However, and after numerous delays, Paz has had to wait until 2018 to be launched, and Ingenio still does not have a definitive date for its launch. although it is expected to be during 2019.
A valuable instrument for border control
From the moment the project was presented, almost all the media began to refer to it as the first Spanish spy satellite. However, already in an interview in 2007, those responsible tried to avoid that term, preferring to use a more generic one such as “observation satellite” due to its other applications.
Among the benefits they have pointed to since then are achieving greater efficiency in the valuation of natural resources, faster response to disasters, and better planning of infrastructures and spatial planning. Of course, they also admitted that it would be “a very valuable instrument for control of our borders“or the security of the troops abroad.
“It is true that the Industria (Ingenio) satellite will be oriented towards civil users and ours will focus more on national security and defense issues, but there are environmental problems, such as marine discharges, that only the satellite radárico can detect “, said the then Secretary of State, Soledad López.
As for the name, it is called Peace because the Ministry of Defense wanted a feminine name that reflected “in an obvious way for everyone” its primary objective, that of guarantee national security and defense.
In any case, for all this to be possible the satellite will first have to be launched. Initially the launch was to be carried out by the Russian company Kosmotras, but after its delays Hidesat canceled the agreement with it in 2016, and in March 2017 it reached an agreement with SpaceX to take over the launch.
You can see the launch live
For those who want to see the satellite launch, Space X will enable a live video to be able to watch it streaming from YouTube. With it you can see how the ninth Falcon 9 reused by Space X takes off.
Along with the Spanish satellite, SpaceX is also expected to launch the first two test satellites for the global broadband network that Elon Musk is preparing: Starlink. It is a gigabit speed satellite internet project presented three years ago, and with which it would be able to provide internet to everyone at low cost. Tomorrow’s will be only 2 of the 4,425 satellites that want to launch with this project.
In Engadget | If you were amazed with the launch of the Falcon Heavy, there is more: this is the calendar of the next events of SpaceX