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New French spy satellite in orbit
Soyuz launches with CSO-1. © 2018 ESA-CNES-Arianespace/Optique Vidéo du CSG - P.Piron

New French spy satellite in orbit

For its 11th and final launch of the year, Arianespace sent the French CSO-1 Earth observation satellite into Sun-synchronous orbit on 19th December.

For its 11th and final launch of the year – and the third with the Soyuz medium launcher — Arianespace sent the CSO-1 Earth observation satellite, intended for defence and security applications, into Sun-synchronous orbit on 19th December for the French CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) space agency and DGA defence procurement agency.

This was the 20th mission carried out by Soyuz since it began operating at the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in October 2011.

The CSO-1 satellite will be placed in a Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 800 km. It will be used to take 3D pictures and acquire very-high-resolution images in the visible and infrared bandwidths, day or night and in fair weather, and using a variety of imaging modes to meet as many operational requirements as possible.

CSO-1 is the first satellite of the Optical Space Component (CSO – Composante Spatiale Optique) programme, a constellation of three satellites dedicated to Earth observation for defense and security. They will be placed into polar orbit at different altitudes, and will carry out two different missions: reconnaissance for CSO-1 and CSO-3, and identification for CSO-2.

The French CNES space agency is delegated as the contracting authority for the CSO programme and its mission ground segment, as well as being the overall system co-architect. CNES also is responsible for orbital positioning, in-orbit acceptance testing and satellite operation.

France’s DGA defence procurement agency is contracting authority for the construction and through-life maintenance of the user ground segment, and will serve as the interface between the sensors deployed in space and the operators. The French armed forces headquarters is the operating authority for CSO.

The successor to the Helios 1 and 2 systems, CSO is intended to address French and European operational needs for global intelligence and strategic surveillance, knowledge of the geographic environment and support for operational deployments.

As France’s third generation of military satellites, CSO was developed in a national framework and will remain accessible to European partners. Germany, Sweden and Belgium already have joined the CSO community, and an agreement with Italy is expected shortly.

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