Arianespace Supports France and European Defense with CSO-1 Satellite’s Launch

Soyuz lifts off from French Guiana. (Credit: Arianespace)

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — For its 11th and final launch of the year – and the third in 2018 with the Soyuz medium-lift launcher – Arianespace successfully orbited the CSO-1 military Earth observation satellite for the French CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) space agency and the DGA (Direction générale de l’armement) defense procurement agency on behalf of the French Ministry of Defense.

The launch took place on Wednesday, December 19 at 1:37 p.m. (local time) from the Guiana Space Center (CSG), Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana (South America).

With this latest launch in support of France’s defense requirements, as well as for the capability needs of several partner countries, Arianespace once again guarantees French and European independent access to space — which is a strategic priority and a key element for sovereignty.

Arianespace: supporting France’s defense capabilities…

Since its creation in 1980, Arianespace has orbited a total of 591 satellites, including 69 for defense and security purposes. CSO-1 is the 42nd satellite orbited by Arianespace for CNES and the DGA. Its predecessors include the Syracuse family of military telecommunication satellites and the Pleiades very-high-resolution space imaging system.

CSO-1 is the first satellite of the Optical Space Component (CSO – Composante Spatiale Optique) program, comprising a constellation of three new-generation satellites for the French Ministry of Defense. They will carry out two different missions: reconnaissance for CSO-1 and CSO-3, and identification for CSO-2.

As the successor to the Helios 1 and 2 systems, CSO will address France and Europe’s operational needs for global intelligence and strategic surveillance, knowledge of the geographic environment, and support for operational deployments.

Airbus Defence and Space France is prime contractor for the satellites, while Thales Alenia Space France is supplying the optical imaging instrument.

To date, Arianespace’s backlog includes six more missions for CNES and the DGA: CSO-2 and CSO-3; Syracuse 4A and 4B; three CERES satellites, and the Taranis satellite.

…as well as its European and international institutional partners

After the Helios 1 and 2 satellites (the first and second generation of military observation satellites), the third-generation CSO spacecraft will be accessible to European partners through bilateral agreements with France as part of the MUSIS program. Germany, Sweden and Belgium already have joined the CSO user community, and an agreement with Italy will be signed shortly.

Of the 69 defense and security or dual satellites launched by Arianespace to date, 50 were for France and European partners:

  • United Kingdom: Skynet telecommunication satellites;
  • Germany: SATCOMBw satellites;
  • Italy: OPSAT-3000 and SICRAL satellites, as well as Athena-Fidus in cooperation with France;
  • Spain: XTAR telecommunication system and Spainsat satellites.

In addition to the satellites for CNES and the DGA, Arianespace has 14 more institutional satellites in its orderbook:

  • PRISMA for the Italian space agency ASI, using a Vega light launcher;
  • Two COSMO-SkyMed satellites for Thales Alenia Space on behalf of ASI and the Italian Ministry of Defense, one using a Soyuz launcher and the other a Vega C;
  • H2Sat for OHB on behalf of the German Aerospace Center DLR, using an Ariane 5 heavy launcher;
  • Four Galileo satellites for the European Space Agency (ESA), using two Ariane 62 launch vehicles;
  • CHEOPS for ESA, using Soyuz;
  • The MTG I1 and MTG S1 satellites for the operator EUMETSAT, using Ariane 5;
  • METOP-SG A1 and METOP-SG B1 for EUMETSAT, using Soyuz;
  • James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) for ESA in collaboration with NASA, using Ariane 5.

Arianespace also has a very successful export track record in providing launch services for defense and security applications. Japan, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Morocco, Turkey, Thailand, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have chosen the company to orbit satellites that safeguard sovereignty.

Drawing on the reliability and availability of its current launchers, along with the upcoming generation of Ariane 6 and Vega C launch vehicles, Arianespace guarantees independent access to space for all customers, especially European institutions.

20th Soyuz launch from the Guiana Space Center and the third in 2018

As the 20th Soyuz launch since it began operating at the Guiana Space Center (CSG), VS20 also is the second in a series of four flights by Soyuz through March 2019 to be launched from the CSG. The optimized launch campaigns use the Fregat Fueling Facility (FCube) – a building inaugurated in 2015 that is dedicated to the Fregat upper stage on the Soyuz launch vehicle.

VS20 is the 11th and final launch performed by Arianespace in 2018: six were carried out with Ariane 5; three utilized Soyuz; and two with Vega. Arianespace has once again demonstrated its flexibility and availability, with six launches conducted in under three months – from September 25 to December 18 – and four launches at a rate of one every two weeks since November 6.

Shortly after orbital injection of the CSO-1 satellite, Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stéphane Israël said:  “Arianespace is proud to have orbited CSO-1, a key satellite for French and European defense. I would like to thank our French customers and partners, CNES, the DGA and the Ministry of Defense, who have renewed their trust in us today. This first of three Optical Space Component satellites marks the first step in the renewal of France’s defense satellite capabilities. Arianespace will further contribute to these capabilities with the launch early in the next decade of CSO-2 and CSO-3, the Syracuse satellites 4A and 4B and the three CERES satellites.

“Congratulations to Airbus Defence and Space as prime contractor for the construction of the CSO-1 satellite, with its optical imaging instrument supplied by Thales Alenia Space. Thank you to the Russian space agency Roscosmos for its commitment to our partnership, marked today with the 20th Soyuz launch from the CSG. Thank you to CNES and the CSG, our ground industrial teams and all personnel at the Spaceport, who work with us to achieve new successes. And well done to the Arianespace teams for this perfect eleventh and final launch of the year and for maintaining such a sustained schedule, with five launches in two months to achieve our objective!”

The CSO-1 satellite 

The CSO-1 satellite was built by Airbus Defence and Space.

Airbus Defence and Space France is prime contractor for the satellite, while Thales Alenia Space France supplied the optical imaging instrument.

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

Its launch mass was 3,566 kg. and it has a design life of 10 years.

About Arianespace

Arianespace uses space to make life better on Earth by providing launch services for all types of satellites into all orbits. It has orbited more than 590 satellites since 1980, using its family of three launchers, Ariane, Soyuz and Vega, from launch sites in French Guiana (South America) and Baikonur, Kazakhstan. Arianespace is headquartered in Evry, near Paris, and has a technical facility at the Guiana Space Center, Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, plus local offices in Washington, D.C., Tokyo and Singapore.

Arianespace is a subsidiary of ArianeGroup, which holds 74% of its share capital, with the balance held by 15 other shareholders from the European launcher industry.