KYIV: A well-known Ukrainian TV host has crowdfunded a gift to help Ukraine's armed forces beat back Russia's invasion: usage rights to 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 Government of Ukraine with the full capabilities for one of ICEYE's satellites already in orbit," the company said.
"In addition, ICEYE will provide access to its constellation of SAR satellites, allowing the Ukrainian Armed Forces to receive radar satellite imagery on critical locations with a high revisit frequency," it said on its website.
The satellites differ from conventional ones due to their synthetic radar imaging technology, which can produce high-resolution images at night, and see through cloud cover, ICEYE says.
"I dont know of any other cases in history when people, young and old, came together and bought a satellite for their state," Prytula said in a video posted on YouTube.
Prytula, whose foundation has conducted several fundraising drives to help the war effort, said the money for the satellites had been raised in June by the "People's Bayraktar" crowdfunding initiative, which sought to purchase three Bayraktar TB2 combat drones from Turkish manufacturer Baykar Defense.
Responding to the wave of publicity caused by that initiative, Baykar handed over three drones for free.
As a result, Prytula said he was able to use the money he had raised, which his foundation says currently stands at over 2 billion hryvnia ($55 million), to purchase access to the ICEYE satellite. ($1 = 36.2500 hryvnias)
(Reporting by Max Hunder; editing by Tom Balmforth and Sandra Maler)