France has launched its CSO-1 military reconnaissance satellite abroad Arianespace Soyuz launch vehicle from Guiana Space Center (Centre Spatial Guyanais, CSG) in French Guiana at 1:37 p.m. (local time) on Dec. 19.
The launch, designated Flight VS20, was performed from the Soyuz Launch Complex (ELS) in Sinnamary. The mission was initially planned on Dec, 18 but was postponed due to unfavorable high-altitude wind conditions above the Guiana Space Center.
Shortly after orbital injection of the CSO-1 satellite, Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stéphane Israël said: “Arianespace is proud to have orbited CSO-1, a key satellite for French and European defense. I would like to thank our French customers and partners, CNES, the DGA and the Ministry of Defense, who have renewed their trust in us today. This first of three Optical Space Component satellites marks the first step in the renewal of France’s defense satellite capabilities. Arianespace will further contribute to these capabilities with the launch early in the next decade of CSO-2 and CSO-3, the Syracuse satellites 4A and 4B and the three CERES satellites.
“Congratulations to Airbus Defence and Space as prime contractor for the construction of the CSO-1 satellite, with its optical imaging instrument supplied by Thales Alenia Space. Thank you to the Russian space agency Roscosmos for its commitment to our partnership, marked today with the 20th Soyuz launch from the CSG. Thank you to CNES and the CSG, our ground industrial teams and all personnel at the Spaceport, who work with us to achieve new successes. And well done to the Arianespace teams for this perfect eleventh and final launch of the year and for maintaining such a sustained schedule, with five launches in two months to achieve our objective!”
VS20 is the 11th and final launch performed by Arianespace in 2018: six were carried out with Ariane 5; three utilized Soyuz; and two with Vega. Arianespace has once again demonstrated its flexibility and availability, with six launches conducted in under three months – from September 25 to December 18 – and four launches at a rate of one every two weeks since November 6.
As the 20th Soyuz launch since it began operating at the Guiana Space Center (CSG), VS20 also is the second in a series of four flights by Soyuz through March 2019 to be launched from the CSG. The optimized launch campaigns use the Fregat Fueling Facility (FCube) – a building inaugurated in 2015 that is dedicated to the Fregat upper stage on the Soyuz launch vehicle.
CSO-1 reconnaissance satellite
CSO-1 is the first satellite of France’s Optical Space Component (CSO – Composante Spatiale Optique) program and was built by Airbus Defence and Space.
Airbus Defence and Space France is prime contractor for the satellite, while Thales Alenia Space France supplied the optical imaging instrument.
CSO-1 was placed in a Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 800 km. and will acquire 3D pictures and very-high-resolution images in the visible and infrared bandwidths, day, night and in fair weather, using a variety of imaging modes to meet as many operational requirements as possible.
Its launch mass was 3,566 kg. and it has a design life of 10 years.
Optical Space Component (CSO – Composante Spatiale Optique) program
The Optical Space Component (CSO – Composante Spatiale Optique) program involves placing a constellation of three satellites in orbit which are 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.
The French CNES space agency is delegated as the contracting authority for the Optical Space Component (CSO) program and its mission ground segment, as well as being the overall system co-architect. CNES also is responsible for orbital positioning, in-orbit acceptance testing and satellite operation.
France’s DGA defense procurement agency is contracting authority for the construction and through-life maintenance of the user ground segment, and will serve as the interface between the sensors deployed in space and the operators. The French armed forces headquarters is the operating authority for CSO.
The CSO-1 satellite is placed in a Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 800 km. It will be used to take 3D pictures and acquire very-high-resolution images in the visible and infrared bandwidths; day, night and in fair weather, using a variety of imaging modes to meet as many operational requirements as possible.
Since its creation in 1980, Arianespace has orbited a total of 590 satellites, including 68 intended for defense and security purposes (including auxiliary payloads). CSO-1, the first in a series of three first-generation satellites for the French armed forces ministry, is the 42nd satellite launched by Arianespace for CNES and DGA. Its predecessors include the Syracuse family of military telecommunication satellites and the Pleiades very-high-resolution space imaging system.
Airbus Defence and Space France is prime contractor for the CSO satellites, while Thales Alenia Space France supplies the optical imaging instrument. CSO-1 will be the 123rd Airbus Defence and Space satellite to be launched by Arianespace.
After the Helios 1 and 2 satellites (the first and second generation of military observation satellites), the third-generation CSO spacecraft will be accessible to European partners through bilateral agreements with France as part of the MUSIS program.