(27 November 2012) Astrium, Europe’s leading space technology company, is prime contractor for the Pléiades 1B satellite scheduled for take-off on 30 November.
The satellite will be lifting off aboard a Soyuz launcher from the European Space Centre in French Guiana, and has already been integrated on the Fregat upper stage of the launch vehicle and transferred to the launch pad. Pléiades 1B is now ready for flight.
“Once Pléiades 1B reaches orbit, Astrium Services will offer a daily very high resolution revisit capability,” said Evert Dudok, CEO of Astrium Services. “For users, Pléiades will soon mean rapid images, regular images and twice as many images in superb resolution.”
Daily revisit capabilities offer true added value for users of space imagery products around the world. The ability to image any place on Earth daily is an essential factor when the utmost reactivity is needed. Conflict zones and crisis/disaster areas will be visible in a matter of hours, wherever their location in the world and, in cases of natural disasters or crises, Pléiades is the perfect tool to help plan evacuation and rescue operations.
This feature also makes it possible to observe changes at specific sites every day (for instance, progress made on large-scale engineering construction projects, monitoring of mining, industrial and military complexes, etc). By doubling the daily collection capacity, and with images produced twice as rapidly, the Pléiades constellation offers users very-high-resolution imagery over large swaths; this makes it ideal for mapping large areas, with more opportunities to collect cloud-free images.
The two Pléiades satellites will be phased 180° apart in the same near-polar heliosynchronous orbit at an altitude of 694 km, enabling daily revisits to any location on the planet.
Pléiades 1B is the second dual-use, very-high-resolution satellite for the Pléiades constellation. Like its twin Pléiades 1A, which has been in orbit since December 2011, Pléiades 1B was manufactured by Astrium in Toulouse for the French space agency CNES. Thales Alenia Space provides the very high-resolution optical imaging instrument.
And also like its twin, Pléiades 1B will provide 50-centimetre products over a 20-kilometre footprint to the French and Spanish defence ministries, civil institutions, and to private users through Astrium Services, the exclusive distributor of Pléiades products for the civil market.
In addition to their high precision, the Pléiades satellites are also notable for their remarkable agility, which enables tilted imaging from nadir and operation in several acquisition modes (20 images over 1000 × 1000 km², stereo, 3D, mosaic, corridor, etc.).
Astrium is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the third in the world. In 2011, Astrium had a turnover close to €5 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide, mainly in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands.
Astrium is the sole European company that covers the whole range of civil and defence space systems and services.
Its three business units are: Astrium Space Transportation for launchers and orbital infrastructure; Astrium Satellites for spacecraft and ground segment; Astrium Services for comprehensive fixed and mobile end-to-end solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security and broadcast satellite communications equipment and systems, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.
Astrium is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2011, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of €49.1 billion and employed a workforce of over 133,000.