The fourth satellite of the Italian Earth observation constellation COSMO-SkyMed was launched successfully at 07:20 p.m. on 5 November 2010 (03:20 a.m. on 6 November in Italy), via a Boeing Delta II rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The satellite was duly “acquired” at 04:27 a.m., Italian time, by Telespazio’s Fucino Space Centre, which will be in charge of its operations for the entire duration of the mission.
Chairman and CEO of Finmeccanica, Pier Francesco Guarguaglini, said, “Finmeccanica is delighted to have contributed, through its companies, to the success of the COSMO SkyMed programme, which represents the jewel in the crown for the Italian space sector today, and is the result of excellent co-operation and synergies between the institutional and industrial arenas. COSMO-SkyMed is globally recognised as a state-of-the-art system in Earth observation with unique performance in the fields of security and environmental protection.”
COSMO-SkyMed is the first global Earth observation constellation that has both civil and military applications. The system is designed to monitor the entire planet for the purposes of risk forecasting and environmental disaster management, as well as applications in the fields of defence and national security, and for scientific purposes and commercial services.
The COSMO-SkyMed constellation comprises four identical satellites that “watch” the planet day and night, under any atmospheric conditions, thanks to high-resolution X-band radar. The system has been implemented in stages: the first satellite was launched in June 2007, the second in December 2007 and the third in October 2008. The fourth satellite, which was launched today, completes the constellation.
The COSMO-SkyMed programme was the result of an agreement between the Italian Space Agency, the Italian defence ministry and MIUR (the Italian ministry for education, universities and research). It was developed by Thales Alenia Space (a Thales/Finmeccanica joint venture), the prime contractor and company with responsibility for the whole system including the space and ground segments.
Telespazio, a Finmeccanica/Thales company, built the system’s entire ground segment and the integrated logistics/operations segment. The Fucino Space Centre houses the control centre for the constellation, which manages the satellite acquisition phases after launch and subsequent early orbit phases, as well as command and control activities and the planning of applications for the acquisition of images.
The Matera Space Centre, managed by e-GEOS – a joint venture between the Italian Space Agency (20%) and Telespazio (80%) – is responsible for the acquisition, processing and distribution of the data gathered by the COSMO-SkyMed satellites for civil applications. e-GEOS sells COSMO-SkyMed data and products on the international market.
SELEX Galileo is the main subcontractor of Thales Alenia Space for COSMO SkyMed and supplies the power generation and distribution chain on board the satellite, and the attitude sensors.