Ukrainian celebrity funds radar satellite for armed forces

KYIV, Aug 18 (Reuters) – A well-known Ukrainian TV host has funded a donation to help Ukraine’s armed forces repel the Russian invasion: the rights to use a radar satellite that can see through clouds.

TV star Serhiy Prytula and Finnish satellite company ICEYE OY confirmed the deal in separate statements on Thursday.

“The contract signed with the Serhiy Prytula Charity Foundation will initially provide the Ukrainian government with full capacity for one of ICEYE’s satellites already in orbit,” the company said.

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“In addition, ICEYE will provide access to its constellation of SAR satellites, allowing the Ukrainian Armed Forces to receive radar satellite imagery at critical locations with high revisit frequency,” it said on its website.

The satellites differ from conventional satellites because of their synthetic radar imaging technology, which can produce high-resolution images at night and see through cloud cover, says ICEYE.

“I don’t know of any other case in history where people, young and old, got together and bought a satellite for their state,” Prytula said in a video posted on YouTube.

Prytula, whose foundation has conducted several fundraisers to support the war effort, said the money for the satellites was raised in June by the People’s Bayraktar crowdfunding initiative, which sought to buy three Bayraktar TB2 combat drones to the Turkish manufacturer Baykar Defense.

Responding to the wave of publicity caused by this initiative, Baykar gave away three drones for free.

As a result, Prytula said he was able to use the money he raised, which his foundation says currently stands at more than 2 billion hryvnia ($55 million), to buy access to the ICEYE satellite.

($1 = 36.2500 hryvnias)

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Reporting by Max Hunder; edited by Tom Balmforth and Sandra Maler

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