Six Astrium satellites ready for takeoff
Sinnamary, 12 December 2011
- For the first time ever, six satellites manufactured by Astrium will be placed in orbit in a single launch
- The six satellites on board the second Soyuz flight out of French Guyana have now been positioned inside the Fregat upper stage
- A dispenser built by Astrium will deploy each satellite to its respective orbit
Astrium, the European space industry leader, is prime contractor for all six satellites scheduled for launch on 16 December on the second Soyuz flight to be operated out of French Guyana.
This flight marks the first time that six satellites manufactured by Astrium will be placed in orbit with a single launch.
The satellites have now been positioned inside the Fregat upper stage on the launcher, one of the last major operations prior to takeoff.
The satellites will be successively deployed to their respective operational orbits by a dispenser that was also manufactured by Astrium.
The six satellites:
- Pléiades 1a, the first of two dual-use, very high resolution satellites comprising the Pléiades constellation. Both Pléiades 1a and its identical twin Pléiades 1b were manufactured at the Astrium site in Toulouse for the French space agency CNES. Pléiades 1b will be placed in orbit within approximately one year.
Once in orbit, each satellite will be capable of providing 70cm resolution images, with products down to 50cm following resampling, over a swath width of 20km to the French and Spanish Ministries of Defence, to civilian institutions and to Astrium Services, the exclusive distributor for the civil market. The Pléiades satellites are extremely accurate, remarkably agile – allowing them to acquire images at any point within 1,500km of their position in different acquisition modes – and also offer unrivalled accessibility, capable of acquiring up to 450 images per day.
The Pléiades constellation will be positioned in a sun-synchronous, quasi-polar orbit at an altitude of 700km.
- The Elisa demonstrators. The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) launched the Elisa demonstrator project to demonstrate the capability to map and characterize radar emissions from any point on the globe. The DGA, which is joint owner of the programme with the French space agency CNES, awarded Astrium Satellites and Thales Systèmes Aéroportés with the contract to develop four satellites based on the Myriade platform, together with the ground segment.
- SSOT, for “Sistema Satelital para la Observación de la Tierra”, is the most recent space-based observation system delivered to a non-domestic customer by Astrium Satellites, the world’s leading exporter in the Earth observation market. The satellite, which was ordered by Chile at the end of 2008, was completely developed by Astrium in just two years. It includes both the satellite and an operational ground segment based in Santiago. The satellite is based on two product families: the Myriade platform, developed jointly with CNES, and the Naomi family of silicon carbide optical instruments, which are used by Astrium for many other optical imagery missions.
The launch sequence for this second Soyuz flight out of Kourou calls for Pléiades 1a to be placed in orbit first, followed by the four Elisa satellites and then SSOT.
The six satellites were manufactured at the Astrium site in Toulouse, while the dispenser was built at Astrium’s Barajas plant in Spain.
Astrium is the number one company in Europe and the third in the world for space technologies. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS, dedicated to providing civil and defence space systems and services.
In 2010, Astrium had a turnover of €5 billion and more than 15,000 employees worldwide, mainly in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands. Its three main areas of activity are Astrium Space Transportation for launchers and orbital infrastructure, Astrium Satellites for spacecraft and ground segment, and Astrium Services for comprehensive end-to-end solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security satellite communications equipment, bespoke geo-information and navigation services worldwide.
EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2010, the Group – comprising Airbus, Astrium, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of € 45.8 billion and employed a workforce of nearly 122,000.
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