Arianespace wraps up its 2018 launch activity with another Soyuz success
Ending the year on a high note, Arianespace’s final mission of 2018 from the Spaceport in French Guiana successfully delivered the CSO-1 satellite – which will enhance French intelligence gathering efforts.
This third flight of Arianespace’s medium-lift Soyuz in 2018 was performed for France’s CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) space agency and the DGA (Direction générale de l’armement) defense procurement agency, on behalf of the French Ministry of Defense. It delivered the CSO-1 spacecraft passenger (which had a mass at launch of 3,566 kg.) into Sun-synchronous orbit.
Today’s mission – designated Flight VS20 – was the 305th overall carried out by the three members of Arianespace’s launcher family (Soyuz, Ariane and Vega), and the 20th by the Russian-built Soyuz workhorse vehicle from French Guiana since its 2011 service entry at the Spaceport. Flight VS20 also was Arianespace’s 11th mission of 2018.
France’s initial CSO spacecraft
CSO-1 is the first satellite of the French Optical Space Component (CSO – Composante Spatiale Optique) program, comprising a constellation of three satellites dedicated to Earth observation for defense and security. They will be placed into polar orbit at different altitudes, and will carry out two different missions: reconnaissance for CSO-1 and CSO-3, and identification for CSO-2.
The Soyuz launcher for Flight VS20 is in full view following the mobile gantry’s roll-back prior to liftoff from the Spaceport.
Once at its final orbital location, CSO-1 will be used to take 3D pictures and to acquire very-high-resolution images in the visible and infrared bandwidths, day or night and in fair weather, and using a variety of imaging modes to meet as many operational requirements as possible.
Airbus Defence and Space France is prime contractor for the CSO satellites; Thales Alenia Space France supplied the optical imaging instrument.
With today’s launch of CSO-1, Arianespace once again demonstrated its reactivity, with six launches conducted in under three months – from September 25 to December 18 – and four launches performed at a rate of one every two weeks since November 6.