Arianespace to Launch Italy’s First COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation Radar Satellite on Dec. 17

Arianespace will launch Italy’s first COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation (CSG-1) radar satellite aboard a Soyuz medium-lift launch vehicle from Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana.

The launch is now scheduled for 5:54 a.m. local time (8:54 am UTC) on December 17.

Soyuz Flight VS23

The mission – carrying a total payload mass estimated at 3,250 kg. – is designated Flight VS23 in Arianespace’s numbering system. In addition to the primary passenger, CSG-1, the mission will also launch four other satellites/payloads into orbit.

CSG-1 an Earth observation spacecraft for the Italian Space Agency (ISA) and Ministry of Defence. The Airbus-produced Characterising Exoplanet Satellite (CHEOPS) will be utilized by the European Space Agency (ESA) on a mission to study bright, nearby stars that already are known to host exoplanets, in order to make high-precision observations of the planet’s size. The other three auxiliary payloads are EyeSat, for the French CNES space agency; ANGELS, for CNES and Hemeria; and OPS-SAT, for Tyvak on behalf of ESA.

CSG-1 will be deployed first during the four-hour-plus flight sequence. Next to be released by Soyuz is the CHEOPS satellite. Completing the mission will be the deployments of three auxiliary payloads.

It was announced on Dec. 13 that the integration of Soyuz’s “upper composite,” made up of five satellite passengers, their protective payload fairing and the Fregat upper stage was completed. This activity was performed at the Spaceport’s ELS launch complex near the town of Sinnamary, beginning with the composite’s transfer on a special transporter, followed by hoisting to the upper level of a purpose-built mobile gantry.

All is now ready for final checkout and Saturday’s launch readiness review, which will clear the way for a Dec. 17 liftoff.

Flight VS23 will be Arianespace’s third launch in 2019 with a medium-lift Soyuz vehicle. Overall, it will be the ninth flight this year using the company’s full family of launchers, which also includes the heavy-lift Ariane 5 and lightweight Vega.

COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation

COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation or CSG (COnstellation of Satellites for the Mediterranean basin Observation), is a dual-use (civil and defence) constellation of two satellites promoted by the Italian Space Agency and the Ministry of Defence dedicated to ensure the operational continuity of the SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) observation services provided by the four satellites of the COSMO-SkyMed (CSK) first-generation, operating in orbit since 2007 and 2010.

Twenty-six minutes after the launch of the CSG-1, the first telemetry data sent by the satellite will be acquired by the Fucino Space Centre of Telespazio, a joint venture between Italy’s Leonardo (67%) and France’s Thales (33%), from which the Launch and Early Orbit Phase (LEOP) will be carried out.

Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales( 67%) and Leonardo (33%), is responsible for the overall COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation program, including the design and development of the two CSG-1 satellites and the end-to-end system design, integration and commissioning.

Thales Alenia Space is also the principal contractor in the Industrial Consortium RTI (“Raggruppamento Temporaneo d’Impresa”) with Telespazio, which is responsible for designing and developing the CSG Ground Segment and providing the Integrated Logistics and Operations (ILS&OPS) services.

Leonardo contributes to the program by supplying the Attitude Sensors (A-STR) for the orientation of the satellite, solar panels (PVA), and sophisticated Units that process and distribute electric power throughout the satellite, maximizing its power efficiency.

This state-of-the-art satellite features the latest technologies and engineering solutions. The overall system, including the ground segment, will set the performance standard for space-based radar observation systems, in terms of precision, image quality and flexible user services.

The COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation satellite will guarantee a quantum leap in terms of technology, performance and service life, consequently, strengthening Italian leadership in the Earth Observation sector on a global level. COSMO-SkyMed’s data is marketed throughout the world by e-GEOS, a joint venture between Telespazio (80%) and ASI (20%).

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