Friday, December 21, 2018

Arianespace Orbits CSO-1 Spacecraft on Its Final Mission of 2018

Arianespace closed out its 2018 launch activity with a Soyuz launch at the service of French institutions. Flight VS20. CSO-1. Credit: Arianespace

Ending the year on a high note, Arianespace’s final mission of 2018 from the Spaceport in French Guiana successfully delivered on Wednesday, December 19, the CSO-1 satellite – which will enhance French intelligence gathering efforts.

This third flight of Arianespace’s medium-lift Soyuz in 2018 was performed for France’s CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) space agency and the DGA (Direction générale de l’armement) defense procurement agency, on behalf of the French Ministry of Defense. It delivered the CSO-1 spacecraft passenger (which had a mass at launch of 3,566 kg.) into Sun-synchronous orbit.

On the occasion of this launch, CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall commented: “This 20th straight success for Soyuz from the Guiana Space Centre is a great source of satisfaction. The orbiting of CSO-1 shows once again how CNES is working effectively with the Ministry of Armed Forces to develop and operate its space systems. Today, our four field centers are center stage: Head Office liaising with the armed forces, the CST for the satellite, and DLA and the CSG for its launch, so I would like to congratulate all of our people for that. I would also like to congratulate all of our partners at DGA, Airbus Defence & Space, Thales Alenia Space and their subcontractors for the satellite, and at ESA, Arianespace and Russian manufacturers for the launch. And I would like to thank our Minister for Armed Forces, Florence Parly, who did us the honor of watching the launch from the Ecole Militaire in Paris. Thank you and well done everybody!”

The mission – designated Flight VS20 – was the 305th overall carried out by the three members of Arianespace’s launcher family (Soyuz, Ariane and Vega), and the 20th by the Russian-built Soyuz workhorse vehicle from French Guiana since its 2011 service entry at the Spaceport. Flight VS20 also was Arianespace’s 11th mission of 2018.

CSO-1 is the first satellite of the French Optical Space Component (CSO – Composante Spatiale Optique) program, comprising a constellation of three satellites dedicated to Earth observation for defense and security. They will be placed into polar orbit at different altitudes, and will carry out two different missions: reconnaissance for CSO-1 and CSO-3, and identification for CSO-2.

Once at its final orbital location, CSO-1 will be used to take 3D pictures and to acquire very-high-resolution images in the visible and infrared bandwidths, day or night and in fair weather, and using a variety of imaging modes to meet as many operational requirements as possible.

Airbus Defence and Space France is prime contractor for the CSO satellites; Thales Alenia Space France supplied the optical imaging instrument.

With Wednesday’s launch of CSO-1, Arianespace once again demonstrated its reactivity, with six launches conducted in under three months – from September 25 to December 18 – and four launches performed at a rate of one every two weeks since November 6.

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