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Canon is sending a satellite with high-resolution camera tech into space: Digital Photography Review

Canon will send its high-resolution CE-SAT-IB satellite camera into space as part of Rocket Lab‘s next payload launch, enabling it to showcase its Earth-imaging capabilities. The private aerospace company, which is based out of California, aims to provide ‘frequent and reliable’ launches, something it will demonstrate by holding its upcoming ‘Pics or It Didn’t Happen’ launch only three weeks after its ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ mission.

The launch will be coordinated by Spaceflight Inc., the company said in a press release last week. Canon’s CE-SAT-1B is a microsatellite at only 67kg (148lbs), not to be confused with the CE-SAT-IIB satellite, which is scheduled to launch via Rocket Lab later on this year.

The optical imaging system inside the CE-SAT-1B (pictured) is based on Canon’s EOS 5D Mark III design. Image via Canon

The launch will take place on Rocket Lab’s Electron rocket from its Launch Complex 1 located on New Zealand’s North Island on July 4 local time. This mission will be called ‘Pics or It Didn’t Happen,’ the fourth Rocket Lab launch in the past year. The team had intended to launch the payloads earlier this year but were delayed by the pandemic.

In a statement, Canon Electronics Satellite Systems Lab group executive Dr. Nobutada Sako told Spaceflight:

This launch is very critical for Canon Electronics as we are launching a satellite where we have remarkably increased the ratio of in-house development of components compared to the previous launch. Partnering with Spaceflight on this mission has been very helpful and we look forward to a successful launch of our satellites.

Canon launched its CE-SAT-I microsatellite in 2017 from India, successfully putting its tiny satellite into orbit. The camera company detailed this effort on its global website, explaining that it already has many of the technologies necessary to build and deploy these small machines.

The CE-SAT-IB microsatellite is the first mass-produced version of the CE-SAT-1 from Canon Electronics. The satellite features solar cells and batteries for power, as well as an optical imaging system that is based on the Cassegrain 40cm telescope with a 3720mm focal length. The satellite’s detector is based on the Canon EOS 5D Mk.3 camera. With this tech, the CE-SAT-IB is able to capture Earth imagery with a resolution of 1m (3.2ft) from an orbit distance of 6km (3.7mi), according to NASA.

In its own announcement, Rocket Lab said last week that its launch will include a total of seven microsatellites with Canon’s CE-SAT-IB as the primary payload. Assuming everything goes according to plan, Rocket Lab plans to conduct additional launches every month for the rest of the year and into 2021. In addition to launching another Canon satellite in the coming months, Rocket Lab also anticipates its first launch for the U.S. Space Force for Q3 2020.


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