Polish Satellite Industry: A growing market

June 21, 2022

Poland’s accession to the European Space Agency (ESA) had a significant impact on local businesses. They were able to participate in ESA tenders, also on preferential (during the first years) terms. It had a huge impact on the great boom and the creation of many startups dealing with space projects.

Today, years later, it can already be seen that various specializations have emerged in the local space sector. One of the fastest growing sectors is the satellite sector. It also has a lot to do with the mission of the Polish Space Agency: “in 2030, the Polish space sector will be fully competitive on a global scale in selected areas and will be able to ensure Poland’s independence in access to satellite data and its application”. As you can see, the satellite industry is one of the top priorities.
What does this part of the sector look like in Poland?

Very beginning of the Polish satellites sector

The first Polish satellite was created by students and was called PW-SAT. The design in the 1U standard was to test an innovative system for deorbiting small satellites. The project was successfully launched and placed in orbit in 2014. Another interesting project was called BRITE. Bright-star Target Explorer (BRITE) is a program of the Canadian-Austrian-Polish consortium whose goal was to create a constellation of nanosatellites capable of observing stars brighter than the Sun. The Polish part was represented by the Space Research Center of the Polish Academy of Sciences, which was responsible for the mechanical design of 2 satellites – Lem and Heweliusz. They were launched in 2013 and 2014.

Development of this industry

During the following year, other student satellites were launched – PW-Sat2 and KrakSAT, and more are being prepared (PW-Sat3, WroSat). The commercial market started to develop as well. It is worth mentioning companies like SatRevolution, Creotech or KP Labs.

Launched in June 2021, STORK is an innovative shared platform with Earth-Observation capabilities. It was developed by the Polish company SatRevolution, which currently builds the REC (Real-time Earth-observation Constellation) satellite constellation planned for 2026, which will ultimately consist of 1500 observation satellites. Creotech is the fastest-growing Polish operating company in the space sector. They are working now on HyperSat or EagleEye satellites.

KP Labs is responsible for the Intuition-1 mission. It is a satellite mission designed to observe the Earth using a hyperspectral instrument and an onboard computing unit capable of processing data using neural networks (artificial intelligence) in orbit.

Innovative solutions

One of the most interesting solutions was designed by ICEYE. ICEYE is a Polish-Finnish company building a satellite-based service to provide the world with access to near-real-time imagery from space. Their synthetic aperture radar (SAR) instrument can capture images through clouds, darkness and other obscuring elements, making it more reliable for operational use than optical camera systems.

The way forward

Those are just a few examples of Polish satellite sector solutions. The industry is growing fast in Poland, and we are sure to see more companies and projects related to this sector.