Maritime surveillance from space: French Unseenlabs wants to place six more satellites in orbit

The automatic identification system [AIS – Automatic Identification System]whose interest is to reinforce the safety of maritime navigation, makes it possible to follow the traffic of civil ships… Except when some of them want to remain discreet because, often, of their illicit activities [pêche non autorisée, trafics…].

Furthermore, the data collected via this device is not absolutely reliable insofar as it can be falsified. What’s more, military vessels can pass themselves off as commercial ships by usurping the latter’s AIS identifiers…

Hence the support of the Ministry of the Armed Forces, via its investment fund Definvest, to the young Rennes company Unseenlabs, which has developed a solution based on a constellation of nano-satellites capable of detecting radiofrequency signals. [RF], ie electromagnetic emissions from electronic systems on board ships. Clearly, this technology can detect all surface vessels, including those that do not want to be seen, regardless of weather conditions.

This year, the constellation of Unseenlabs grew with the placing in orbit of the nano-satellites BRO-6 and BRO-7 [BRO pour Breizh Reconnaissance Orbiter], thanks to the American SpaceX and the New Zealander Rocket Lab. In 2023, the Breton company intends to move up a gear.

Indeed, the BRO-8 nano-satellite will take off next January from Cape Canaveral, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, as part of the Transporter-6 mission. Five others should follow him thereafter.

“In 2023, 6 additional satellites should be ready for lift-off. Unseenlabs will continue to expand its constellation to collect data over a region of interest multiple times per day to support commercial and government applications,” the company said in a statement.

And to add: “The technology on board the Unseenlabs constellation characterizes all these transmitters by geolocating them in a precise space-time allowing each ship at sea to be given a unique signature, or fingerprint, to monitor its location at sea. This capability is essential for government and commercial uses and helps monitor areas like the Baltic Sea [surveillance des gazoducs]the Gulf of Guinea [piraterie, trafic, plateformes offshore] or the Arabian Sea [pêche illégale].

Precisely, with regard to the Baltic Sea, if one of the Unseenlabs satellites, which has collected “tens of thousands of electromagnetic signatures” since 2019, had been requested at the time of the sabotage of the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream gas pipelines 2, in September, so no doubt we would have a more precise idea of ​​who is responsible. Because, in the meantime, and selon le Washington Postthere is no proof that would designate Russia with certainty… And sources from the daily newspaper even estimated that it would probably be impossible to know who made this coup…

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