Soyuz orbits the French CSO-2 Earth observation satellite on Arianespace’s 10th launch of 2020
Arianespace’s workhorse Soyuz was back in action today, delivering the French CSO-2 Earth observation satellite into Sun-synchronous orbit from the Spaceport.
This afternoon’s launch, which began at the exact liftoff time of 1:42:07 p.m. in French Guiana, deployed the spacecraft passenger during a mission lasting just under one hour.
It was Arianespace’s 10th and final flight of 2020 – and the fifth this year using the medium-lift vehicle – coming just 11 days after another Soyuz was launched by the company and its Starsem affiliate from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome to deliver 36 satellites for the OneWeb constellation.
Soyuz brings exceptional flexibility to Arianespace
During 2020, Arianespace conducted Soyuz missions from three different launch sites, including the Spaceport in French Guiana, where Flight VS25 was performed today to orbit France’s CSO-2 satellite.
The 2020 operations with Soyuz underscored the medium-lift launcher’s exceptional flexibility for Arianespace’s launch services offering, having been utilized during the year from three different facilities: the Guiana Space Center in South America; Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome; and Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia.
Today’s mission, designated Flight VS25 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, utilized a Soyuz ST-A version and was performed for the French CNES space agency and the DGA defense procurement agency. The CSO-2 satellite will be operated on behalf of the French armed forces and the country’s Space Command.
CSO-2 serves the defense and security needs of France, as well as the requirements of several partner countries, acquiring very-high-resolution images in the visible and infrared wavelengths – day or night and in fair weather – using a variety of imaging modes to meet a broad range of operational needs.
Arianespace’s second launch for the French CSO program
France’s Optical Space Component (CSO – Composante Spatiale Optique) program is composed of three satellites serving two mission requirements: reconnaissance for CSO-1 and CSO-3; identification for CSO-2. The initial satellite in this system, CSO-1, was orbited by Arianespace on a Soyuz mission in December 2018 that also was performed from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
Airbus Defence and Space France is prime contractor for the CSO satellites, while Thales Alenia Space France supplies the optical imaging instrument. On today’s mission, CSO-2 was the 130th Airbus Defence and Space-built satellite launched by Arianespace.
For Flight VS25, Soyuz lifted off from its purpose-built ELS launch complex, which is situated Spaceport’s northwestern sector near the town of Sinnamary. This was the 25th mission from French Guiana with Soyuz since the launcher’s introduction at the Spaceport in October 2011.
Powered by its four first stage boosters and second stage central core, the Soyuz launcher for Flight VS25 continues its climb-out with the CSO-2 satellite payload after liftoff from the Spaceport in French Guiana. This image is a screenshot from Arianespace’s live video broadcast.