Arianspace launched a new reconnaissance satellite for the French military on Tuesday (December 29), marking the final mission of the 2020 European launch provider.
The Russian-made Soyuz rocket launched the satellite, called Optical Space Component 2 (or Component Spatial Optic 2, CSO-2) in French, from the Guana Space Center in Kourou, South America, to French Guiana. Lifting occurred at 11:42 am EST (1642 GMT) after a day’s delay due to inclement weather.
The CSO-2 is a next-generation Earth imaging satellite designed to help transform France’s aging Helios 1 and 2 systems.
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“CSO-2 is the second in a constellation of three similar military observation satellites that will operate in different polar orbits to carry out two missions: reconnaissance for CSO-1 and CSO-3, and detection for CSO-2, which CSO will join-1 was launched in December 2018, “officials of the French space agency CNES, which is overseeing the mission, said in a statement.
Manufactured by Airbus, 7,852-lb. The (3,562 kg) CSO-2 would orbit the Earth at a distance of about 300 miles (480 kilometers) compared to its predecessor CSO-1, which had a 500-mile (800 km) orbit. The satellite was successfully deployed approximately one hour after liftoff.
“It will achieve clear-weather imagery in high-resolution day / night, visual and infrared to serve a broad spectrum of operational needs,” CNES officials said in the statement.
According to SpaceFlight Now, CSO satellites are expected to have a resolution of about 14 inches (35 cm) from that 500-mile orbit. CNO officials have stated that the CSO-2 is designed to last at least 10 years in orbit.
The French government has reportedly spent $ 1.5 billion on the new CSO surveillance satellite program, a cost that includes satellite and ground-based systems, Spaceflight Now reported.
The successful launch of CSO-2 marked the 10th mission of 2020 by Arianspace and this year’s fifth Soyuz flight. But even because of the company’s winds for the year, it has a series of Ariane 5, Vega and Soyuz flights to 2021, including the much awaited launch of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope on 31 October.
“2021 is set to be intense for Arianspace,” Arianspace CEO Stephen Israel said after the launch. “So, 2021 is really set to be a very busy one and that’s why, here, we will take a little rest later this year.”
Email Tariq Malik at [email protected] or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us on @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.