The Pléiades 1 Very High Resolution (VHR) Earth observation satellite recently left Astrium’s site in Toulouse for Kourou, where it is slated for launch in mid-December, plus, the four satellites of the Elisa constellation and the Chilean satellite SSOT, scheduled for the same flight, arrived in Kourou on October 21st.
Astrium is prime contractor for all six satellites to be launched in mid-December by the second Soyuz launcher to lift-off from Kourou. The six satellites:
Pléiades 1, is the first of two very high-resolution satellites manufactured by Astrium Satellites in Toulouse for CNES (the French Space Agency). It will be joined in space by its twin, Pléiades 2, in approximately one year’s time
Once in orbit, each satellite will provide to the French and Spanish defence ministries, and to civilian users, Very High Resolution (VHR) optical satellite imagery coupled with major operational advances. They offer incomparable image acquisition capacity, remarkable agility (rapid area targeting) for multiple target modes (stereo, mosaics, corridor or target) and excellent operational flexibility. At an altitude of 700km, the Pléiades constellation will be capable, after processing, to provide 50-cm resolution products with a swath width of 20km
The four satellites for the Elisa demonstrator are developed jointly by Astrium Satellites and Thales Systèmes Aéroportés for the French ministry of defence procurement agency (DGA) and CNES. Elisa will demonstrate spaceborne capabilities to map and characterize radar emissions from all around the globe. The four satellites are also based on the Myriade platform
SSOT, for “Sistema Satelital para la Observación de la Tierra”, is the most recent space-based Earth observation system exported by Astrium Satellites, the world’s number one exporter in the field. Ordered by Chile in late 2008, SSOT is based on two product families: the Myriade platform developed in cooperation with the CNES, and Naomi optical instruments, made of silicon carbide and used with success by Astrium for many other optical imagery missions
The launching of six satellites in a single flight has been made possible thanks to the payload support structure developed at the Astrium site in Barajas, near Madrid. The launch sequence for this second Soyuz flight from Kourou calls for the Pléiades 1 to be placed in orbit first, followed by the four ELISA satellites and finally SSOT. This will be the first time that six satellites developed by Astrium are launched simultaneously.