Canada-based UrtheCast has unveiled plans to build and launch a multispectral optical and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) constellation of Earth observation satellites.

Said to be the first-of-its-kind, the constellation will comprise a minimum of 16 satellites that will fly in two orbital planes, each consisting of four satellite pairs.

The satellite pairs will include a dual-mode optical satellite and a dual-band SAR satellite.

Planned to be deployed between 2019 and 2020, the constellation is designed to provide space-imaging capabilities, including high-collection capacity, optical and SAR data fusion, weather-independent imaging using the SAR, and imaging latency.

"We’re confident that the constellation will bring an entirely unique dataset to this industry."

UrtheCast president and COO Wade Larson said: "We’ve been working on the constellation for over a year now and we’re delighted by the market reception we’ve had.

"We’re confident that the constellation will bring an entirely unique dataset to this industry and, frankly, given the response we’re getting around the world, our customers agree."

The constellation will also facilitate onboard, real-time processing, cross-cueing between the satellites, and real-time cloud imaging on the SAR satellites.

The two orbital planes will support maximum revisit rates in the mid-latitudes, as well as provide the company with global coverage.

For the programme, UrtheCast has partnered with UK-based Surrey Satellite Technology for the satellite design, and Spain-based ElecnorDeimos Space for mission planning system, distributed ground stations, SAR payload integration, mission analysis and flight dynamics.

UrtheCast has signed memoranda of understanding (MoU) with various customers and partners, including an MoU for $195m funding for the programme.

The company said it will reveal further technical, operational and financial details once the material aspects of the satellites are formalised with additional customers.