Arianespace has successfully launched the French CSO-1 spy satellite aboard a Russian Soyuz-ST rocket. The launch was Arianespace’s 11th and last orbital mission for 2018.
The Soyuz-ST carrying the CSO-1 Earth observation satellite was launched from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana at 16:37 UTC (12:37 local time) on December 19. Following the launch, Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stéphane Israël confirmed on Twitter that the satellite had been successfully deployed.
The CS0-1 (Composante Spatiale Optique 1) satellite was built by Airbus Defence and Space, while the optical imaging instrument was supplied by Thales Alenia Space. The satellite, and two more like it will replace the current Helios 2 military observation satellites.
In addition to funding from the French Armed Forces, both Germany and Sweden contributed to the development of the CSO satellites. The partnership will see Germany receive access rights to imaging captured by the satellites and Sweden receive access to a polar ground station.
The CS0-1 satellite had a launch mass of 3,566 kilograms (7861 pounds) and is expected to remain operational for 10 years. It is built on the Airbus AstroSat-1000 satellite bus and is equipped with an optical imaging instrument and four deployable fixed solar arrays. The satellite’s imaging resolution is expected to be significantly better than a Helios 2 at approximately 35 centimetres from an 800-kilometer (500-mile) orbit.
In addition to being the French launch provider’s 11th orbital mission this year, yesterday’s launch was also the third Soyuz mission to lift off from Guiana in 2018. Arianespace operates the Soyuz under a license agreed upon with the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) in 2009. The vehicle is a modified version of the Soyuz-2 referred to as the Soyuz-ST. This modified Soyuz rocket was first launched from the Guiana Space Center in 2011. Since then, it has been launched 19 times suffering just one partial failure.