Sinnamary, French Guiana: Astrium, a satellite manufacturer, is prime contractor for all six satellites scheduled for launch on December 16, 2011, on the second Soyuz flight to be operated out of French Guyana. This flight marks the first time that six satellites manufactured by Astrium will be placed in orbit with a single launch.
The six satellites include Pléiades 1a satellite, four ELISA satellites and SSOT satellite.
Pléiades 1a and its identical twin Pléiades 1b were manufactured at the Astrium site in Toulouse for the French space agency (CNES). Pléiades 1b will be placed in orbit within approximately one year.
Once in orbit, each satellite will be capable of providing 70cm resolution images, with products down to 50cm following resampling, over a swath width of 20 kilometres to the French and Spanish Ministries of Defence, to civilian institutions and to Astrium Services, the exclusive distributor for the civil market. The Pléiades satellites are extremely accurate, remarkably agile – allowing them to acquire images at any point within 1,500km of their position in different acquisition modes – and also offer unrivalled accessibility, capable of acquiring up to 450 images per day.
The Pléiades constellation will be positioned in a sun-synchronous, quasi-polar orbit at an altitude of 700km.
The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) launched the ELISA demonstrator project to demonstrate the capability to map and characterise radar emissions from any point on the globe. The DGA, which is joint owner of the programme with the CNES, awarded Astrium Satellites and Thales Systèmes Aéroportés with the contract to develop four satellites based on the Myriade platform, together with the ground segment.
SSOT, for “Sistema Satelital para la Observación de la Tierra”, is the most recent space-based observation system delivered to a non-domestic customer by Astrium Satellites. The satellite, which was ordered by Chile at the end of 2008, was completely developed by Astrium in just two years. It includes both the satellite and an operational ground segment based in Santiago. The satellite is based on two product families: the Myriade platform, developed jointly with CNES, and the Naomi family of silicon carbide optical instruments, which are used by Astrium for many other optical imagery missions.