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TecSAR / Polaris / Ofeq 8

The TECSAR is a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) Technology Demonstration, Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) Satellite used for strategic Image Intelligence (IMINT). Carrying a low weight X-Band radar payload with multi-beam electronic steering, the satellite is able to cover large areas and to provide high-resolution SAR images of any zone of interest on the globe, in any weather conditions, day and night. A Powerful Ground Station is used for tasking new missions via the uplink, and for downloading raw-data via a wideband downlink for further processing, exploitation and interpretation.

TecSAR is designed for remote sensing, using simultaneously, its high agility and multi-beam electrical steering capabilities, enabling high throughput per revolution. Recorded Images are downloaded from the satellite in a short time via a high rate data transmission link. The TECSAR payload is manufactured by IAI’s subsidiary - ELTA Systems LTD. TECSAR is based on MBT’s IMPS II bus. TECSAR provides high resolution images and large area coverage by variable modes of operation:

  • Spot: various modes of spot imaging by mechanical steering
  • Strip: various strip widths according to required resolution
  • Scan: wide area coverage using electronic beam steering
  • Mosaic: coverage of large area with high resolution using mechanical and electronic steering.
In January 2008 IAI successfully launched this advanced synthetic aperture radar (SAR) satellite into orbit on an Indian launcher. The satellite, under the brand name TECSAR, was launched at the SHAR test field in southeast India in collaboration with a team of Indian and Israeli experts. The launch was carried out under a cooperation agreement between the Government of India and IAI relating to space activities. All launches from Israel head west over the Mediterranean so as not to fly over their regional neighbors who might interpret the launch as hostile. By being forced to launch west, Israeli-launched satellites use a retrograde orbit. Retrograde orbits are infrequently used by other countries as they require extra velocity and fuel to get their payloads into orbit and go in the direction which is opposite of the rotation of the Earth.

It was reported in February 2010 launch of the 330-kilgram Ofeq-8 is planned for summer 2010 [note that Ofeq-9 and Ofeq-8 appeared to have been switched around launch-date-wise]. Some accounts reported that Ofeq-8 belonged to the same generation of two earlier electro-optical satellites, Ofeq-5 and Ofeq-7. But the Ofeq 8 designation was used for the TecSAR synthetic aperture radar satellite launched by an Indian rocket on 21 January 2008. TecSAR was renamed “Ofeq 8” just before the Ofeq 9 launch, possibly to overcome the “curse of even-numbered Ofeq satellites”, failing to reach orbit.

In 2007 Northrop Grumman Corporation and Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI) teamed to build and launch operational surveillance satellites in a responsive production cycle to provide U.S. government users with unique, all-weather, day/night imaging capabilities. The initiative is a rapid response, low-risk and affordable space-based radar imaging system designed for 24-hour surveillance in all weather conditions from a low earth orbit. The system is planned as an operationally responsive space initiative that can deliver critical new capabilities to users about 28 months after authorization to proceed.

Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector will combine its proven intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) mission systems engineering and systems integration capability with IAI's TECSAR high-resolution, synthetic aperture radar imaging satellite. Mission assurance capabilities, including secure communications and other U.S. system requirements, will be incorporated into the spacecraft by Northrop Grumman with final integration and test at its facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif.

Based on IAI's TECSAR multi-mode X-band radar imaging satellite, this new system can provide significant, near-term, day/night and all-weather point and area collection capability to meet the immediate needs of warfighters in theater as well as those of the broader intelligence community. The first TECSAR satellite is scheduled for launch in summer 2007 for the Israeli Ministry of Defence. Northrop Grumman plans to demonstrate the new rapid response capability following the launch.

"This new system provides a capability that complements both existing and U.S. military and intelligence community capabilities being developed," said Alexis Livanos, corporate vice president and president of Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector. "When they want to move quickly on any given contingency, users now have an option that offers greatly reduced timelines for deploying tactical satellites at low cost and at very low risk."

"An all-weather, day/night system like this adds an operationally responsive capability to the U.S. inventory that is critically needed," said Jeff Grant, vice president of Business Development for Northrop Grumman's Space Technology sector. "Adding a responsive radar imager to our current and planned mix of space and airborne assets will enable us to hold the high ground on a global scale when dealing with the threats we face today."

The satellite is operated with a compact, portable ground system that provides the flexibility to perform tasking and data dissemination from the continental U.S. or from any operational theater. The satellites can be individually launched from a low-cost Minotaur or Falcon 1 rocket, or as a group of four or more on an EELV-class launcher.

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Page last modified: 10-04-2014 19:04:53 ZULU