Early 2017, Canon will launch a prototype imaging satellite into space on a test mission, armed with Canon’s own photography gear. The project is being headed up by Canon Electronics, the same division responsible for cameras and printers. While details remain scarce, Light Art Academy has learned that the satellite is equipped with a telescope with hardware similar to that of Canon’s 5D DSLR.
Canon also confirmed that the satellite’s lens would use “Canon optical technologies,” although no further details on the imaging tech were provided.
At about 143 pounds and measuring roughly 85x50x50cm (2.8×1.6×1.6 feet), Canon’s is one a growing number of relatively small satellites designed for expanded commercial use. Being smaller and simpler, this new breed of satellite is also much cheaper to produce. It is estimated to be priced at $12.6 million per unit, which is apparently a bargain.
Canon’s prototype will orbit at an altitude of 500 kilometers (310 miles) and circle the Earth 15 time in a day. From that altitude, it will be able to resolve at least enough detail to see individual vehicles on the ground, according to the report.
Canon sees opportunities for the satellite in agriculture, natural disaster prevention, and for tracking shipping containers as they arrive in port. It presents an entirely new business opportunity for the company, which estimates it could generate $482 million by 2020 and twice that by 2030. Canon plans to test and calibrate the space-based photography for the first two years while signing up future clients at the same time.
It would be a proud moment for Indians as the Canon’s satellite will be sent into orbit on a rocket supplied by the Indian Space Research Organization, and will be launching in March 2017 from southeast India.