Italy, France Signs MUSIS Stage 2 Contract to Make CSO, CSG Military Satellite Systems Interoperable

The MUltinational Space-based Imaging System (MUSIS) Stage 2 contract was signed in Bonn on Nov. 18 by the OCCAR-EA Director, Matteo Bisceglia, on behalf of MUSIS Partner Nations (Italy and France), and the legal representative of the Industrial Consortium created by Thales Alenia Space – Italy and Airbus Defence and Space, Anna Massetti.

This contract envisages the development and the production of one Common Interface Layer (CIL) to make interoperable the French Composante Spatiale Optique (CSO) with the Italian Cosmo Sky-Med Second Generation space-based systems. An option for a long-term In-Service Support is also included.

Signing of MUSIS Stage 2 Contract.
Signing of MUSIS Stage 2 Contract. From left to right: Matteo Bisceglia, OCCAR-EA Director; Anna Massetti, Legal representative of the MUSIS Industrial Consortium ©OCCAR

The idea of a MUltinational Space-based Imaging System was generated with the aim to improve and foster international cooperation related to the Earth Observation activities through space-based platforms. MUSIS is indeed a federation of systems (i.e. a system of systems) that delivers space-based imaging capabilities to its users resulting in an improvement in the exploitation of systems for remote sensing.

France’s Optical Space Component (Composante Spatiale Optique, CSO) Program

The Optical Space Component (CSO – Composante Spatiale Optique) program involves placing a constellation of three military satellites in orbit which are dedicated to Earth observation for defense and security.

The satellites will be placed into a polar orbit at different altitudes and will carry out two different missions: reconnaissance for CSO-1 and CSO-3, and identification for CSO-2. Airbus Defence and Space France is the prime contractor for the CSO satellites, while Thales Alenia Space France is supplying the optical imaging instrument.

The CSO-1 military reconnaissance satellite was launched abroad Arianespace Soyuz launch vehicle from Guiana Space Center (Centre Spatial Guyanais, CSG) in French Guiana on Dec. 19 last year and was 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.

CSO-1 Satellite
Artist’s rendering of French CSO-1 military earth observation satellite in orbit. (CNES)

Italy’s COSMO-SkyMed Second-Generation (COSMO-SkyMed Seconda Generazione, CSG) Program

The CSG satellites are improved versions of Italy’s 1st generation COSMO-SkyMed (COnstellation of small Satellites for the Mediterranean basin Observation) space-based Earth-observation radar satellite system. The COSMO-SkyMed system is funded by the Italian Ministry of Research and Ministry of Defence and conducted by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), intended for both military and civilian use.

The CSG satellites are equipped with synthetic aperture radar (SAR), capable of observations under any weather or light conditions, day or night.

The contract for building the satellites was signed in September 2015. Built by Thales Alenia Space (the successor company of Alenia Spazio) in Italy using the PRIMA platform, the COSMO-SkyMed Second-Generation satellites will each weigh approximately 2,200 kg. at launch, and will be positioned in Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 619 kilometers. They have a planned lifetime of 7 years.

As of November 2019, the satellites’ target launch date is 17 December 2019 (for CSG 1) and 2020 (for CSG 2). The CSG 1 and CSG 2 satellites will be launched aboard Soyuz and Vega C rockets respectively from the Guiana Space Center.

COSMO-SkyMed Second-Generation (CSG) satellite
Artist’s concept of COSMO-SkyMed Second-Generation (CSG) satellite of the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Italian Ministry of Defense. (Thales Alenia Space)

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