(13 November 2013) Astrium Services’s SPOT 6 high-resolution satellite has been qualified by the European Space Agency (ESA) to take part in the Copernicus Earth observation programme.
Copernicus – known as GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) when it was founded in 1998 by the European Union and ESA – aims to provide a series of data obtained by observation satellites and in-situ measurement instruments, in order to produce a comprehensive global view of the state of our planet.
The qualification of SPOT 6 for Copernicus intensifies Astrium’s role in the programme, bringing to six the total number of Astrium Services satellites qualified so far by ESA.
SPOT 6 and its future sister SPOT 7 belong to a new generation of satellites operating in constellation with a considerably increased image-acquisition success rate, owing to both their agility and their capacity for regular daily updates on programming plans and weather forecasts.
Such performance is a genuine asset for managing natural disasters and humanitarian crises. These new generation satellites are also capable of acquiring wide-area imagery, which is necessary for the deployment of environmental services on a continental and local scale, capturing images at a resolution of 1.5 metres.
Astrium’s contributions to Copernicus include operating the optical and radar-based satellites – SPOT 5, Pléiades 1A & 1B and TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X – that supply data for Copernicus services. Astrium is also playing a major part in the construction of the Sentinel satellites that will complement the data from the Copernicus Contributing Missions, while Astrium Services provides important services upstream of Copernicus.
The European programme is designed to assist with the preparation of national, European and international legislation relating to the environment – particularly climate-change legislation – and to ensure it is applied correctly.
Funded by the European Commission, it allows member states’ European, national, regional and local institutions to access environmental data and services for the purposes of environmental protection, land-use management, sustainable development, security and risk management. The information services offered by Copernicus can be divided into six main thematic areas: land, marine, emergency management, atmosphere, security and climate change.
The Pléiades 1A & 1B and SPOT 6 & 7 satellite constellations represent a major renewal of Astrium Services’ sensor capability and allow the company to ensure continued implementation of the European Union’s environmental policies within the framework of Copernicus’ services.
Astrium is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the second in the world. It is the only global company that covers the full range of civil and defence space systems, equipment and services.
In 2012, Astrium had a turnover over €5.8 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide.
Its three business units are: Astrium Space Transportation, the European prime contractor for launchers, orbital systems and space exploration; Astrium Satellites, a leading provider of satellite system solutions, including spacecraft, ground segments, payloads and equipments; Astrium Services, the Space services partner for critical missions, providing comprehensive fixed and mobile solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.
Astrium is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2012, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of €56.5 billion and employed a workforce of over 140,000.