The UK Space Agency (UKSA) has awarded a £1.2 million ($1.46 million) grant to Horizon Technologies for the Amber Phoenix Mission, a project aimed at enhancing the UK Government’s maritime intelligence capabilities. As part of the mission, an Amber RF Earth Observation payload will be launched into orbit in mid-2024.
Amber is a unique addition to the field of Earth Observation constellations. It utilizes Horizon’s advanced technology to detect, geolocate, and demodulate maritime RF signals from “dark vessels,” providing valuable maritime intelligence data. The Amber satellite/payload continuously covers approximately 3 percent of the world’s surface, making it an “always on” service. The Amber Phoenix Mission is the first step towards establishing a constellation of over 20 Amber payloads in orbit, offering worldwide RF data with a latency of 30 minutes to the Joint Maritime Security Centre (JMSC) and other customers.
Horizon Technologies faced a setback earlier this year when their original Amber payload was lost during a failed launch by Virgin Orbit. The payload was part of the Satellite Applications Catapult IOD-3 program, for which Horizon Technologies was competitively selected in 2019.
Paul Bate, CEO of UKSA, expressed confidence in Horizon Technologies’ ability to tackle the complex challenge of tracking vessels attempting to avoid detection. He believes that the Amber Phoenix Mission will not only enhance space-based maritime intelligence data services but also attract further investment into the UK space sector. Bate looks forward to seeing Horizon Technologies launch more satellites in the future.