Arianespace Soyuz rocket delivered the French CSO-2 military Earth observation satellite into Sun-synchronous orbit from the Spaceport, on Dec. 29.
The afternoon launch, which began at the exact liftoff time of 1:42:07 p.m. in French Guiana, deployed the spacecraft passenger during a mission lasting just under one hour. The rocket lifted off from its purpose-built ELS launch complex, which is situated Spaceport’s northwestern sector near the town of Sinnamary.
This was Arianespace’s 10th and final flight of 2020 – and the fifth this year using the Soyuz medium-lift vehicle – coming just 11 days after another Soyuz was launched by the company and its Starsem affiliate from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome to deliver 36 satellites for the OneWeb constellation. This was the 25th mission from French Guiana with Soyuz since the launcher’s introduction at the Spaceport in October 2011.
Today’s mission, designated Flight VS25 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, utilized a Soyuz ST-A version and was performed for the French space agency, CNES and the French defense procurement agency, DGA. The CSO-2 satellite will be operated on behalf of the French Armed Forces and the country’s Space Command.
CSO-2 serves the defense and security needs of France, as well as the requirements of several partner countries, acquiring very-high-resolution images in the visible and infrared wavelengths – day or night and in fair weather – using a variety of imaging modes to meet a broad range of operational needs.
France’s Optical Space Component (CSO – Composante Spatiale Optique) program is composed of three satellites serving two mission requirements: reconnaissance for CSO-1 and CSO-3; identification for CSO-2. The initial satellite in this system, CSO-1, was orbited by Arianespace on a Soyuz mission in December 2018 that also was performed from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
Airbus Defence and Space France is prime contractor for the CSO satellites, while Thales Alenia Space France supplies the optical imaging instrument. On today’s mission, CSO-2 was the 130th Airbus Defence and Space-built satellite launched by Arianespace.