France to Launch its CSO-1 Military Reconnaissance Satellite Abroad Arianespace Soyuz Rocket

France is scheduled to launch its CSO-1 military reconnaissance satellite abroad Arianespace Soyuz launch vehicle from Guiana Space Center (Centre Spatial Guyanais, CSG) in French Guiana at 16:37 UTC on Dec. 19.

The launch, designated Flight VS20, will be 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.

The satellite, which is intended for defense and security applications, will be launched into a Sun-synchronous orbit for the French space agency (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales, CNES) and the French defense procurement agency (Direction générale de l’armement, DGA) on behalf of the French Ministry of Defense.

This is Arianespace’s 11th and final launch of the year and the third in 2018 with the Soyuz medium launcher.

CSO-1 reconnaissance satellite

CSO-1 is the first satellite of the Optical Space Component (CSO – Composante Spatiale Optique) program, 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.

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 will be 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, will be the 42nd satellite launched by Arianespace for CNES and DGA.

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.

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