Ursa Space, partner of Spire on maritime domain awareness services for the government

Photo: Spire Global.

Ursa Space Systems and world spiretwo commercial companies that provide remote sensing services to government and other customers, have formalized a partnership to combine their capabilities to detect illicit maritime activity on behalf of the US government.

New York-based Ursa Space leverages synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery provided by other commercial companies with satellite constellations that image Earth. Spire, which is based in Northern Virginia, has a constellation of more than 100 radio frequency (RF) monitoring satellites that detect electronic emissions on Earth, including Automatic Identification System (AIS) transponders that transmit position , location and other information about a vessel.

The companies said their merged offering enables the detection and tracking of vessels that have gone “dark”, i.e. when vessels turn off their AIS transponders. If this happens, SAR satellites can be used to detect and track these vessels in all weathers and at night. Even with a vessel’s AIS system disabled, RF satellites can still detect these vessels if they are transmitting other types of electronics such as satellite communications.

“Illegal maritime activity has far-reaching implications for national security, the economy, human rights and more, but for a long time it has been difficult to prevent due to the lack of transparency on the oceans. open,” said Chuck Cash, vice president of federal sales. for Speyer, said in a statement. “Our partnership with Ursa Space is a phenomenal demonstration of how data collected from space can improve life on Earth. The complementary nature of AIS data and SAR imagery plays a major role in detecting and preventing illegal maritime activities.

The partnership between the two commercial remote sensing companies follows the June release of a national security memorandum by President Joe Biden aimed at addressing illegal fishing by deep-sea fleets in the world’s oceans. The President directed the Departments of Defense and State and the U.S. Agency for International Development to increase “the use of ship tracking systems, aerial surveillance, and radio frequency data, as well as the use of emerging technologies such as advances in machine learning associated with aperture radar synthesis, where appropriate.

China maintains the world’s largest distant-water fishing fleet, which often goes dark to avoid detection in pursuit of fish stocks outside its territorial waters.

In May, the United States, Australia, India and Japan also agreed to an Indo-Pacific Maritime Domain Awareness Partnership to work with regional partners on a maritime domain awareness picture. near real-time, integrated and cost-effective.

This article was first published by Via Satellite’s sister outlet Defense Daily.