French military satellite CSO 2 launched
French military satellite CSO 2 launched

| Pierre-François Mouriaux 374 mots

French military satellite CSO 2 launched

Arianespace launched at the end of 2020 French second military satellite CSO. His capabilities are classified.

Europe's sharpest eyes

CSO 1 was launched on December 19, 2018, using Soyouz STA/Fregat M launcher. Second CSO (Optical Space Component) military satellite into three was launched on December 29, 2020 from French guyana space center, after a postpone for a day, due to bad weather conditions on French Guyana. CSO 2’s mass in 3562 kg, his lifetime is ten years. He was placed on a SSO (Sun-synchronous orbit) similar to that of CSO 1 (98.6°) but much lower (420 km vs 800 km) in order to provide EHR (Ultra-high resolution images) for defence and security purposes.

These are the highest resolution images ever produced by a European reconnaissance satellite, but the exact characteristics of the telescope are classified.

CSO 3 will be launched in 2022, using Ariane 62 launch system. CSO is a CNES  (Center for Space Study- French Space Agency) /DGA (French Directorate General of Armaments) program.


Recognition and Identification

CSO is French third-generation military satellite program, replacing Helios 2 satellites, with best performances. CSO program, previously called Musis (Multinational Space-based Imaging System for Surveillance, Recognition and Observation) was launched in 2010. After attempts to europeanize the program, finally, agreements were made with Germany, Sweden, Belgium and Italy.

CSO has two goals : Recognition, with CSO 1 and CSO 3 ; and identification with CSO 2. It must respond to national operational needs in terms of intelligence, surveillance, knowledge of the geographical environment and support for operations.



The Cnes is the delegated project manager of the CSO space component and the mission ground segment, and the overall co-architect of the system. It ensures the stationing, in-flight acceptance and operation of the satellites.

DGA is project owner for the construction and maintenance in operational condition of the user ground segment (interface between space sensors and operators).

The Armed Forces General Staff (EMA) is the CSO authority.

Based on the Pleaides platform, the CSO satellites have been entrusted to Airbus Defence and Space (prime contractor) and Thales Alenia Space (telescope manager).


Last launch for 2020

CSO 2 was launched, using 25th Soyouz launcher used in Guayana since october 2011. It was the tenth and last Arianespace launch for 2020.

Despite covid crisis, 104 launches made on 2020 were successful, on 114 attempts.

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