France: The production of Airbus‘ four new very high-resolution satellites, which together will form the Pleiades Neo constellation, is well on schedule for launch in 2020. They will be joining Airbus’ constellation of optical and radar satellites and will offer enhanced performance and direct access to the data relay on communication system, known as SpaceDataHighway.
This first batch of four optical and very agile satellites will double the number of visits per day anywhere on Earth and offer a re-tasking rate which is five times higher than previous constellations. Each satellite will be adding half a million km sq. per day at 30cm resolution to Airbus‘ offering.
These images will be streamed into the OneAtlas on-line platform, allowing customers to have immediate data access, analytics and correlation with Airbus‘ unique archive of optical and radar data.
“With Pleiades Neo, we will have the most advanced high-resolution constellation on offer for both commercial and secured governmental applications with another four satellites added to our existing Airbus fleet of 10 accessible earth observation satellites,” said Evert Dudok, Head of Communications, Intelligence and Security at Airbus Defence and Space.
“The fact that Pleiades Neo is equipped with the latest Laser Communication Technology gives our customers an advantage of speed that will be unrivaled in our industry for a long time.”
Pleiades Neo will utilize the SpaceDataHighway to ensure the highest system reactivity, lowest latency and high volume data transfer. The four satellites will be equipped with reactive Ka-band terminals that will allow last minute tasking updates, even if the satellites are beyond their ground stations’ line-of-sight. This is an important asset for customers, when it comes to the assessment of natural disasters and first line response for civil and military applications.
The integrated next generation laser terminals are optimized in terms of power and will save 60% in mass and size compared to currently used terminals. They are designed by Tesat Spacecom and developed under a partnership between the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and Airbus.
The SpaceDataHighway, also known as the European Data Relay System (EDRS), was developed through a public-private partnership (PPP) between the European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus, and actually benefits to the Sentinel satellites of the European Union‘s Copernicus program. Pleiades Neo will be the first commercial constellation to be equipped with this technology, and therefore able to provide a unique responsiveness level.