Airbus spy satellite for Germany has been set to its launch site

Airbus Defense and Space, part of the Europe-based global major aerospace group Airbus, has announced that its SARah-1 reconnaissance satellite has been moved from its assembly facility in Friedrichshafen in Germany, in the State of Baden-Württemberg, in Germany, to Vandenberg (US) Space Force Base, in the State of California, in the US, from where it will be launched in the near future. Airbus developed the satellite, under subcontract from German company OHB System, on behalf of the German Bundeswehr (armed forces).

(Other sources report that SARah-1 will be launched on Saturday – June 18 – by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, into polar orbit.)

The satellite will form part of the SARah constellation of what Airbus calls an “operational reconnaissance system”, or what would popularly be called spy satellites. The system includes a ground segment. The SARah constellation will be composed of three radar satellites, SARah-1 coming from Airbus and the other two from OHB System, and two ground stations.

It is not clear what the acronym SARah stands for, except that ‘SAR’ is the abbreviation for synthetic aperture radar, which is the primary payload for the satellite. The new constellation will replace the Bundeswehr’s current five-satellite SAR-Lupe radar reconnaissance satellite constellation. Unlike optical satellites, radar satellites are generally not affected by bad weather conditions in the areas that they seek to monitor.

“The [SARah-1] radar instrument developed and built by Airbus features a sophisticated active phased array antenna and represents a further development of the Airbus-built TerraSAR, TanDEM-X and PAZ Earth observation satellites already successfully operating in orbit, ”reported Airbus, in its statement. “This technology offers the advantages of very fast pointing and very flexible shaping of the antenna beam to deliver imagery in record time.”

Airbus is responsible for arranging the launch of the satellite and for the calibration and validation of its radar system. Launch and commissioning will be overseen by the Airbus control center in Friedrichshafen. Calibration, validation and operation will then take place from the Bundeswehr’s own control station.

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