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Two of 5 RapidEye satellites

RapidEye AG is a German geospatial information provider focused on assisting in management decision-making through services based on their own Earth observation imagery. The company owns a five satellite constellation producing 5 meter resolution imagery that was designed and implemented by MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) of Richmond, Canada. Originally located in Munich, the company relocated 60 km southwest of Berlin to Brandenburg an der Havel in 2004.

Industry Applications

RapidEye works with the following industries:

  1. Agriculture – Field boundary extraction, crop identification, acreage determination, yield forecasting, management and harvest zone mapping, damage assessment and risk management for agricultural insurances, etc.
  2. Forestry – Tree species separation, stem volume estimation, infestation detection, volume estimation, harvest mapping, etc.
  3. Security & Emergency- Disaster management after tornadoes, hurricanes, drought, floods, landslides, hail, fires, earthquakes, etc.
  4. Environment – Change detection for any environmental purpose
  5. Spatial Solutions – Background imagery services, updating road network databases, ortho-image maps, etc.
  6. Energy & Infrastructure - Pipeline monitoring, land cover classification, clutter mapping, etc.


Five Identical Satellites: Each of RapidEye's five satellites contain identical sensors, are equally calibrated and travel on the same orbital plane. Therefore, an image from one satellite will be equivalent to an image from any of the other four, allowing for a large amount of imagery to be collected (4 million km² each day) and quick revisit times. The RapidEye satellite system is capable of imaging any point on Earth every day.

Construction: Surrey Satellite Technologies Ltd (SSTL) of Guildford, UK was subcontracted by MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) to design and build and test the spacecraft bus.

Sensors: RapidEye's satellite sensors (cameras), built by Jena-Optronik of Jena, Germany (also under subcontract from MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA)) record images in five spectral bands: Blue (440-510 nm), Green (520-590 nm), Red (630-685 nm), Red Edge (690-730 nm) and Near Infrared (760-850 nm). The nominal resolution on the ground is 5 meters, corresponding to NIIRS 2.

Size: The RapidEye satellites are quite small. Each satellite is approximately 1 meter cubed (roughly the size of a dorm refrigerator or a dishwasher). The only other constellation of this size used for remote sensing is the DMC (Disaster Management Constellation), also designed and built by SSTL.

The RapidEye satellite platforms has been constructed by Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd (SSTL). [1] This makes RapidEye the second multiple-satellite imaging constellation that SSTL has been involved with, after building and launching the Disaster Monitoring Constellation.

RapidEye invited the public to name their satellites with a contest in July 2008. The winning names chosen from this contest were : TACHYS (Rapid), MATI (Eye), CHOMA (Earth), CHOROS (Space), TROCHIA (Orbit). All names are Greek in origin.


On August 29, 2008, a DNEPR-1 rocket (a refurbished ICBM missile), was successfully launched from Baikonur in Kazahstan carrying RapidEye's constellation of five Earth observation satellites designed and implemented by MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) of Richmond, Canada.[2][3][4] Since then, the satellites have been undergoing their initial testing and calibration phase, which will last until approximately the end of 2008.


1996: The RapidEye business concept was designed by Kayser-Threde GmbH, based on a call for ideas from the DLR (German Aerospace Agency), on how to commercialize remote sensing in Germany.

1998: RapidEye was established as an independent company in Munich with seed financing from a few private investors and Vereinigte Hagelversicherung, a German agricultural insurance provider.

2004: Funding was secured for the RapidEye satellite constellation and ground segment with the help of the European Union, the State of Brandenburg (Germany), a banking consortium consisting of Commerzbank, EDC (Export Development Canada) and KfW Banking Group. Through a contract with the CCC (Canadian Commercial Corporation), MacDonald Dettwiler (MDA) was awarded the contract as the prime contractor to build RapidEye's satellite system. RapidEye relocated their business to Brandenburg an der Havel, Germany.

2008: RapidEye earned ISO 9001:2000 certification in April from TÜV Nord The RapidEye constellation of five Earth observation satellites was successfully launched on August 29 from Baikanour, Kazakhstan. After the satellites completed their MPAR phase (consisting of testing and calibration) they became commercially operational in February 2009.

2009: RapidEye's Online Satellite Data Store opened.[5] RapidEye joins the Esri Business Partner program.[6]

2011: Iunctus Group acquires assets of RapidEye AG.[7]


August 29, 2008 successful launch of 5 RapidEye satellites.

October 21. 2008 release of RapidEye's first image.

November 27, 2008 release of the image gallery on RapidEye's website.

February 4, 2009 with initial testing complete, the RapidEye satellites are put into commercial operations. [8]


  1. SSTL News and Events, Retrieved 9 October 2012.
  2. "[http://www.rapideye.de/upload/documents/Press_Releases/PR_Announcement_SuccessfulLaunchFIN_EN_29.08.2008.pdf Press Release: First Commercial Satellite Constellation Successfully Launched]" (PDF). RapidEye. http://www.rapideye.de/upload/documents/Press_Releases/PR_Announcement_SuccessfulLaunchFIN_EN_29.08.2008.pdf. 
  3. "RapidEye Constellation Launch 2008". RapidEye. http://www.rapideye.de/home/about-us/launch-2008-/. 
  4. Video of the launch provided by Russian space agency Roscosmos
  5. RapidEye Press Release. 8 December 2009. Accessed 10 October 2012.
  6. RapidEye Press Release. 25 August 2009. Accessed 10 October 2012.
  7. RapidEye Press Release. 1 September 2011. Accessed 10 October 2012.
  8. RapidEye Press Release. 4 February 2009. Accessed 10 October 2012.

External links