The UK Government’s Defense Space Strategy Names Earth Observation A Priority With Azalea

BAE Systems has scheduled the launch of its space-based communication project – Azalea. Azalea is a multi-sensor satellite cluster designed to deliver digital intelligence to military customers in real-time. The project supports the UK Government’s Defense Space Strategy, published earlier this year, which named Earth observation as a priority area to help protect and defend UK interests.

Azalea will employ a range of sensors to collect radar, visual, and radio frequency (RF) data which will be analyzed through a machine learning program for secure distribution of intelligence to any part of the planet. This ability to combine and analyze data in space saves valuable time, as it does not require multiple terabytes of data to be transferred to Earth before processing and distribution. The cluster includes four satellites that, unlike conventional, single-purpose satellites, can be fully reconfigured while in orbit to maintain military operability, intelligence gathering, and disaster response.

Azalea’s persistent monitoring will enable easier detection of physical changes on the surface, such as movements from hostile ships or aircraft, floods and forest fires, and even the location of people at risk during natural disasters. BAE has partnered with Finland-based satellite developer ICEYE, which will provide sensor and advanced synthetic aperture radar technology for high-resolution imaging of the Earth’s surface at any time in any weather.

“The Azalea satellite cluster will process data in space to provide swathes of digital intelligence wherever it’s needed,” BAE Systems Digital Intelligence Group Managing Director Dave Armstrong said. “We understand how important space-based intelligence is to every domain, whether that’s informing strategic command, alerting an in area warship, or providing real-time intelligence to forces on the ground. The launch of Azalea in 2024 will be a major step forward for the UK’s sovereign space capability.”