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Blast off for rocket with first all-British radar satellite

The NovaSAR satellite (Iso Antrix/PA) Photo: Press Association Images

The first all-British radar satellite has been launched towards an orbit where it will be tasked with monitoring the oceans.

The NovaSar satellite, designed and manufactured by a Surrey-based firm, lifted off on a rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India at 5.38pm UK-time on Sunday.

Backed by a £21 million Government investment, the satellite can take images night or day, even through the cover of heavy clouds.

The NovaSar satellite Credit: Airbus Space/PA

The latter ability makes them ideal for spotting illegal logging in high cloud-covered forests, such as the Amazon.

Its functions will also include monitoring for oil spills and floods, as well as tracking suspicious shipping activity such as smuggling.

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NovaSar was designed by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL) in Guildford, which was also launching a second satellite.

Dr Graham Turnock, the UK Space Agency’s chief executive, said: “This exciting new satellite, with its powerful imaging radar system and compact design, has been developed and built in the UK, and will provide a host of benefits for applications including the detection of oil spills, flood monitoring and agriculture.”

Science Minister Sam Gyimah said the data from this project will help innovate start-ups, develop apps and “revolutionise the way we live”.