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U.K. company plans survey satellite fleet

A $160 million project will launch three new British satellites by 2013 to image the surface of Earth, a commercial company says.

Spacecraft manufacturer Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. and its data processing subsidiary DMCii say the satellites will be able to make out details down to 1 meter (39.37 inches) at their best resolution, the BBC reported ending September.

Nations without their own dedicated satellites will be able to buy time on the spacecraft, the company said.

“This constellation of three satellites will be owned and operated from the United Kingdom but the capacity on the spacecraft will be leased to different international customers,” Martin Sweeting, executive chairman of SSTL, said.

SSTL and DMCii already operate a fleet of imaging satellites owned by different nations, including the United Kingdom, China, Spain and Nigeria.

DMCii acts as business manager for the countries, processing and distributing their data and collecting revenues earned from selling the satellites images to third-party customers, the BBC reported.

The satellites were particularly active this year in monitoring the impacts of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.