May 26, 2022

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French military monitoring satellite released by Soyuz rocket

French military monitoring satellite released by Soyuz rocket
A Soyuz ST-A rocket fires off its launch pad in French Guiana with the CSO 2 spacecraft. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace – Photo Optique Video du CSG – P. Piron An optical reconnaissance satellite for the French military took off atop a Soyuz launcher Tuesday, riding the Russian-made rocket from a tropical spaceport in South America into…
A Soyuz ST-A rocket fires off its launch pad in French Guiana with the CSO 2 spacecraft. Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace– Picture Optique Video du CSG– P. Piron

An optical reconnaissance satellite for the French military took off atop a Soyuz launcher Tuesday, riding the Russian-made rocket from a tropical spaceport in South America into a 300- mile-high polar orbit to start a 10- year mission surveying the world.

France’s CSO 2 spy satellite joins CSO 1, an identical craft launched in 2018, to continue changing the French military’s 1990 s- and 2000 s-era Helios household of reconnaissance satellites.

The new military spysat lifted off on a Soyuz ST-A rocket at 11: 42: 07 a.m. EST (1642: 07 GMT) from the European-operated Guiana Area Center in South America. Release took place at 1: 42 p.m. regional time at the spaceport in French Guiana.

Running more than eight months late due to delays primarily triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, the mission prospered in providing the 7,852- pound (3,562- kg) CSO 2 spacecraft to an on-target orbit around 300 miles (480 kilometers) above Earth.

The Soyuz launcher’s four kerosene-fueled very first phase boosters closed down and sloped from the rocket around 2 minutes after liftoff, followed by separation of the Soyuz payload shroud and core stage. A third stage engine fired next, then released a Russian Fregat upper stage for a set of engine burns to place the CSO 2 spacecraft in the appropriate orbit for release.

Ground groups in French Guiana validated separation of the CSO 2 satellite around one hour liftoff, as the spacecraft flew over a European Space Agency ground station in Australia.

” Objective perfectly achieved,” stated Stéphane Israël, CEO of Arianespace, the French company that oversees launch operations in French Guiana.

” It’s a really moving moment, and terrific news for the French Army,” stated Caroline Laurent, director of orbital systems at CNES, the French area firm, a partner for the French armed force on the CSO program. “Personally speaking, I believe it is the best Earth observation satellite in the world.”

The CSO 2 spacecraft is set to offer the highest-resolution Earth observation images ever produced by a European satellite. The first images from CSO 2 are anticipated to be downlinked within about 2 weeks of launch, according to Laurent.

” We introduced a splendid satellite,” stated Maj. Gen. Michel Friedling, head of French Area Command.

Credit: ESA/CNES/Arianespace– Image Optique Video du CSG– P. Piron

CSO 2 is the 2nd satellite to sign up with the French military’s Composante Spatiale Optique, or CSO, series of orbiting reconnaissance platforms.

France’s CSO 1 satellite launched on a Soyuz rocket in December 2018, and the third and final CSO satellite is scheduled to release on Europe’s new Ariane 6 rocket in 2022.

While CSO 1 released into an orbit around 500 miles (800 kilometers) in altitude, the CSO 2 spacecraft flies 200 miles (about 300 kilometers) closer to Earth. In that orbit, the satellite will capture sharper images for French military coordinators and intelligence experts.

The CSO satellites are replacing France’s Helios household of military security satellites, the last of which launched aboard an Ariane 5 rocket in 2009.

The new CSO satellites boast much better worldwide imaging capabilities than their Helios predecessors, and can take more images in a single overhead pass than the Helios spysats, according to the French Ministry of the Army.

The CSO satellites reportedly have a resolution of around 14 inches, or 35 centimeters, from the 500- mile-high orbit. From the lower 300- mile-high perch, CSO 2’s resolution is forecasted to be better than 8 inches, or around 20 centimeters. For comparison, the brand-new WorldView Legion commercial Earth-imaging satellites being established by DigitalGlobe have a resolution of about 11.4 inches, or 29 centimeters.

The imaging abilities of the U.S. government’s spy satellites are categorized.

The French armed force’s CSO 2 reconnaissance satellite, with a cover over its optical telescope. Credit: Arianespace

Positioning the CSO 2 satellite into a lower orbit permits it to “provide images at the highest possible level of resolution, quality and analytical accuracy,” CNES said on its site.

The enhanced imaging quality from CSO 2, flying in its lower orbit, makes the new satellite well-suited for follow-up observations from other satellites in the fleet. CSO 2 might help recognize targets and reveal info not noticeable to satellites in higher orbits, which have a wider field-of-view.

In its low-altitude orbit, CSO 2 could determine the details of a cars and truck, according to Nadège Roussel, primary weapons engineer at DGA, the French armed force’s procurement firm.

” Such level of information is genuine operational asset, and its efficiency makes this a distinct system in Europe,” she said.

The three CSO satellites equal, other than a modification in the focusing of the optical instrument on CSO 2 to enable it to take photos from a lower altitude, according to Pierre-Emmanuel Martinez, CSO 2 satellite supervisor at CNES.

The new-generation CSO spy satellite fleet is costing the French federal government more than $1.5 billion, including spacecraft, launch and ground system upgrade costs, according to French authorities. The program is moneyed through the DGA, and the French space agency CNES is accountable for in-orbit testing, satellite operations, and the acquiring of the spacecraft and launch services.

Artist’s principle of 2 CSO satellites in orbit. Credit: DGA

The French government has contracts to share optical images from the CSO satellites with the federal governments of Germany, Sweden, Belgium, and Italy, authorities said. In exchange, the French military gets images from German and Italian radar observation satellites, which are created for day-or-night, all-weather surveillance, and access to a ground station in Sweden.

The CSO satellites will also provide intelligence firms and military authorities images day-or-night in visible and infrared bands. The infrared imaging ability is an enhancement over the Helios fleet, an upgraded enabled by the introduction of cryogenic cooling systems to chill infrared detectors on the CSO satellites.

Each CSO spacecraft features a nimble pointing capability, enabling quick steering from target to target, and enabling views from different look angles for three-dimensional stereo security products.

French officials said reconnaissance imagery from the CSO satellites work in acquiring details about inaccessible areas, evaluating the strength of opponent military forces, and identifying civilians in close distance to the battleground. The images can help prepare for airstrikes, locate collaborates to assist rockets, avoid collateral damage to civilians, and permit leaders to examine the efficiency of strikes by comparing images taken in the past and after a military operation.

The CSO 2 satellite likewise includes a brand-new self-governing orbit control ability, allowing the spacecraft to maintain its elevation and neutralize climatic drag utilizing quick burns of on-board thrusters. The satellite can perform the self-governing control maneuvers over the ocean and be prepared to resume imaging operations once back over land, according to the French military.

The 3 CSO satellites were constructed by Airbus, with optical imaging instruments produced by Thales Alenia Area. CNES controls the satellites from a center in Toulouse, France, and the French military gets images at an airbase in Creil, France.

A French military operator analyzes a satellite image. Credit: Arianespace/DGA

Airplane won the contract to construct the CSO satellites in 2010, and the French federal government authorized construction of a third CSO satellite after Germany dedicated to join the program in 2015.

” Supplying the most modern and efficient observation capability for the security of our people, as well as the sovereignty and independence of France and Europe, CSO is a genuine game changer in regards to resolution, intricacy, security of transmission, dependability and availability: just a couple of nations can declare such an ability,” said Jean-Marc Nasr, head of Airplane Area Systems.

” Today we are celebrating the launch of CSO 2, featuring the most powerful ‘area cam’ ever integrated in Europe,” stated Hervé Derrey, president and CEO of Thales Alenia Space. “We are very happy to have built its telephoto lens and electronics, the brains of the satellite. To establish this instrument, we contacted the full sum of our experience in building the optical instruments for the six satellites in the Helios 1, Helios 2 and Pleiades families, permitting us to offer an instrument with unrivaled efficiency.”

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