Arianespace to Launch 4 Earth Observation Satellites for Airbus

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Arianespace to Launch 4 Earth Observation Satellites for Airbus

Rendition of Vega C launcher. Photo: Arianespace

Arianespace revealed Monday that it signed a contract with Airbus to launch four optical observation satellites for the Composante Optique 3D (CO3D) constellation. These Earth Observation (EO) satellites are being developed with the French Space Agency (CNES), and will be launched on a Vega C rocket in 2023 from the Guiana Space Center.

The CO3D satellites will deliver stereoscopic images of the Earth at a resolution of 50 centimeters (cm), with a high revisit rate. This data will be fed into an Airbus digital processing system, which will integrate algorithms from CNES to produce 3D maps of the Earth’s surface.

Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israël commented on the contract: “With several months to go before the first Vega C launch, this new-generation European light-lift launcher has reaffirmed its ability to meet users’ innovative needs in low orbit, especially with the ability to carry multiple payloads – benefitting from the improved performance. For Arianespace, this is a further sign of the renewed confidence in the Vega system by our long-time partners of Airbus and CNES.”

Vega is a European Space Agency (ESA) program, with Colleferro, Italy-based Avio as the industrial prime contractor. TheVega C rocket variant offers increased volume under the payload fairing for its passengers, with an inaugural launch set for 2021.

In November, Arianespace’s Vega rocket experienced a launch anomaly that resulted in the loss of Spain’s SEOSAT-Ingenio Earth Observation (EO) satellite and a research satellite called TARANIS for CNES, the French space agency. Arianespace and ESA set up an independent Inquiry Commission to investigate the incident and publish a report of its findings.

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