Arianespace signs a contract with Airbus to launch four optical surveillance satellites

It weighs about 300 kg. Together, these satellites will be launched as common passengers on a single flight and will be deployed in polar orbit at an altitude of 500 km.

Arianespace has signed a contract with Airbus to launch four new-generation optical observation satellites from the constellation CO3D (Composante Optique 3D), to orbit around it using a Vega C launcher.

Arianespace CEO Stefan Israel and Philip Pham, senior vice president of Earth Observation, Navigation and Science at Airbus, said the two companies have signed a contract to launch the CO3D constellation of miniature Earth observation satellites, which have been developed with the French space agency CNES.

It weighs about 300 kg. Together, these satellites will be launched as common passengers on a single flight and will be deployed in polar orbit at an altitude of 500 km. The mission is set to take place in 2023 from the Guyana Space Center, the European spaceport in French Guiana, using the Vega C launch vehicle.

The CO3D constellation consists of four identical satellites, built on a highly innovative all-electric platform developed by Airbus. As a result of the partnership between the French National Center for Space Studies and Airbus, CO3D technology will provide holograms of the Earth with a resolution of 50 cm, with a high revisit rate. This data will be fed into Airbus’s digital processing system, which will integrate advanced algorithms from CNES to produce super-accurate 3D maps of the surface of our planet.

Commenting on the contract, Israel said: “With the lapse of several months before the launch of the first Vega C, this new generation of European light-lift launchers has reaffirmed its ability to meet the needs of innovative users in low orbit, particularly with the ability to carry multiple payloads – leveraging performance. For Arianespace, this is another sign of the renewed confidence in the Vega system from our long-standing Airbus and CNES partners. ”

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Vega is the new generation of members of the Arianespace bomber family, along with the Ariane 5 heavy lift and medium lift Soyuz, deployed from the Guyana Space Center. Vega is a program of the European Space Agency (ESA), with Italy-based Avio Colleferro as the industrial prime contractor.

Vega’s performance and versatility allow Arianespace to provide the best possible launch solutions in low Earth orbit for small and medium-sized payloads, covering a wide range of applications (Earth observation, science, education, and defense).

With the Vega C, Arianespace will provide greater performance and size under the payload width for its occupants. The inaugural Vega C is slated to launch in 2021.

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