Soyuz Flight VS23

with COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation, CHEOPS and three auxiliary payloads: OPS-SAT / EyeSat / ANGELS


Launch date
December 18, 2019
COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation, CHEOPS, OPS-SAT / EyeSat / ANGELS
Launch vehicle
Launch site
Spaceport, French Guiana (Guiana Space Center)
Thales Alenia Space Italy, Italian Space Agency / Italian MOD, European Space Agency (ESA), Tyvak, CNES
Prime contractor(s)
Thales Alenia Space, Airbus
Sun-synchronous orbit


On its ninth and final mission of 2019 — the third this year with the Soyuz medium-lift launcher from the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in French Guiana – Arianespace will perform a multiple launch at the service of innovative satellite solutions for European institutional needs.

The COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation satellite for the Italian Space Agency and Minister of Defence will be the primary passenger of this flight, along with the Characterising Exoplanet Satellite (CHEOPS) on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA). Three auxiliary payloads also will be on board: ANGELS and EyeSat for the French CNES space agency; and OPS-SAT for Tyvak (on behalf of ESA).

As demonstrated by this 49th Soyuz mission for Arianespace, the European launch services provider continues to address all Europe’s need for flexible, reliable and independent access to space.

Washington, D.C.
03:54:20 a.m.
Kourou, French Guiana
05:54:20 a.m.
Universal Time (UTC)
Paris, France
09:54:20 a.m.
Rome, Italy
09:54:20 a.m.
Moscow, Russia
11:54:20 a.m.


COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation

The COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation satellite is an Earth observation spacecraft featuring state-of-the-art technologies and engineering solutions, further bolstering Italian leadership in this sector. It will be the fourth satellite launched by Arianespace for the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the ninth performed in total for Italy (comprising ASI, the Italian Ministry of Defence and Telespazio).

This second-generation system, including its ground segment, will set a new performance standard for space-based radar observation systems in terms of precision, image quality and the flexibility of user services. It is a dual (civil/military) system, designed to address the requirements of both commercial and government customers, as well as the scientific community.

The COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation satellites are equipped with synthetic aperture radar (SAR), capable of observations under any weather or light conditions, day or night.

Manufactured by Thales Alenia Space (Italy), COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation will be the 162nd satellite manufactured by this constructor to be launched by Arianespace.

There currently are five Thales Alenia Space’s satellites in Arianespace’s backlog.


The Characterising Exoplanet Satellite (CHEOPS) is an ESA mission implemented in partnership – in particular with Switzerland. This 74th satellite to be launched by Arianespace for ESA will mark the 52nd mission conducted by the launch services provider at the service of this space agency.

CHEOPS is the first mission dedicated to studying bright, nearby stars that already are known to host exoplanets in order to make high-precision observations of the planet’s size as it passes in front of its host star. The spacecraft will focus on planets in the super-Earth to Neptune size range, with its data enabling the bulk density of the planets to be derived – a first characterization step towards understanding these alien worlds.

It will be the 25th scientific mission (and the 32nd satellite) to be launched by Arianespace.

Airbus in Spain is prime contractor for the mission, with the University of Bern being responsible for the telescope. Airbus led a consortium of 24 companies (seven From Spain) representing 11 European countries. The spacecraft was built in two years.

CHEOPS will be the 128th Airbus satellite to be launched by Arianespace.

There currently are 21 Airbus satellites in Arianespace’s backlog.

3 auxiliary payloads: OPS-SAT / EyeSat / ANGELS

ANGELS & EyeSat in orbit

OPS-SAT is a 3U CubeSat and the first satellite to be launched by Arianespace for Tyvak on behalf of ESA.

Tyvak offers access to space by providing end-to-end, cost-effective space systems using agile aerospace processes and accelerating on-orbit access especially for the small-, nano- and CubeSat categories of satellites. Tyvak International of Italy provided the deployer and launch service for OPS-SAT on behalf of ESA.

OPS-SAT is the world’s first free-for-use, in-orbit testbed for new software, applications and techniques in satellite control. It enables new software to be tested in orbit, bringing Europe forward to a new era of space flight innovation and commercial opportunity.

In the first year of operation, OPS-SAT will host over 100 in-flight experiments submitted from many ESA Member States. OPS-SAT was developed by the Graz University of Technology with subcontractors from Austria, Germany, Poland and Denmark. It will be operated by ESA from the European Space Operations Centre (ESOC) in Germany.

EyeSat is a 3U CubeSat designed to study the zodiacal light and image the Milky Way. It has three main objectives:

  • Scientific,
  • To demonstrate new satellite technologies, and
  • To train students in space engineering professions.

The EyeSat is being financed and developed by the French CNES space agency (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) within the scope of the Janus project (Jeunes en Apprentissage pour la réalisation de Nanosatellites des Universités et des écoles de l’enseignement Supérieur), which is designed to encourage students in universities and engineering schools to develop their own very small satellites.

The EyeSat satellite is in the form of a 3U CubeSat and is fitted with an instrument called IRIS, which is a small space telescope.

EyeSat will be the 16th satellite (including Pleiades satellites) to be launched by Arianespace for CNES.

There is one additional CNES satellite to be launched in the Arianespace’s backlog: TARANIS.

ANGELS (for: Argos Néo on a Generic Economical and Light Satellite) is jointly financed and developed by the French CNES space agency (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales) and Hemeria – an innovative industrial group active in the aerospace, defense, energy, rail and automotive markets (which is an affiliate of Nexeya).

ANGELS is a 12U CubeSat, and is the French industry’s first nanosatellite.

The satellite will be fitted with a miniaturized ARGOS Néo instrument, which is 10-times smaller than the equivalent previous-generation device. The instrument collects and determines the position of low-power signals and messages sent by the 20,000 ARGOS beacons now in service worldwide.

Two project teams – CNES and Hemeria for ANGELS; and CNES, Thales Alenia Space and Syrlinks for ARGOS Néo – are working together on this French space project.

ANGELS paving the way for French industry to build operational nanosatellites within the “new space” environment.

ANGELS will be the 17th satellite (including Pleiades satellites) to be launched by Arianespace for CNES.

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