Beyond Earth


In collaboration with Horizon Technologies

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AMBER, is a partnership between the Satellite Applications Catapult and Horizon Technologies, built by AAC Clyde Space in Scotland.

AMBER is expected to be the first of 20+ planned AMBER™ satellites to provide Maritime Domain Awareness data to users. Using unique, patented technology, the system will geolocate and demodulate radio frequency (RF) data from ships around the world. Horizon Technologies’ data will be used by governments to provide information on the tracking and prevention of illegal fishing, smuggling, trafficking, piracy, and terrorism. Information collected through the programme will be provided to the United Kingdom’s Joint Maritime Security Centre.

Visit the Horizon Technologies Website

The satellite forms part of the Satellite Applications Catapult’s In-Orbit Demonstration programme (IOD), funded by Innovate UK, and combines three different types of data, including information from satellite phones, to help track marine vessels.

At present, all ships are fitted with Automatic Identification Signals (AIS), which can be detected by satellites, but AIS can be disabled to avoid detection when undertaking activities such as illegal fishing, piracy, smuggling, and transhipments. This new satellite will reduce the dependency on AIS by using other sources of data to provide location information.


AMBER was one of the collective of small satellites included in Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne on its historic flight from Spaceport Cornwall earlier this year – a mission expected to mark the first-ever orbital launch from a United Kingdom spaceport.

The objective of the mission was  to demonstrate for the first time how launch from the United Kingdom can benefit the rapidly growing UK space sector and can enable organisations to rapidly deploy new technologies to orbit, with a complete end-to-end capability coordinated from UK soil.

IOD-3 Amber™, the first satellite in Horizon Technologies’ Amber™ constellation, was lost following the unsuccessful launch of Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne in January 2023.

The team recognises the great steps the UK space industry has taken in capability, expertise, and regulation in pursuit of this first commercial spaceflight from UK soil.

The Catapult also shares in the disappointment of Virgin Orbit, Spaceport Cornwall, the other satellite operators, and everyone else involved with the launch. We and our partners Horizon Technologies now begin work on a successful future mission.

Dan Hart - CEO, Virgin Orbit

“We are delighted to work with the Catapult and Horizon to launch Amber-1 on this planned historic flight, the first to bring domestic launch capability to the United Kingdom. We believe tracking shipping from space is vital to keeping the seas safe and that Amber-1 is a key technology that will aid this endeavour. This important technology, and Virgin Orbit’s collaboration with the Catapult are the latest signs of the growth we are seeing across the UK space economy. This is galvanized by our planned capability to launch straight from the United Kingdom to orbit”

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