Launch date
December 29, 2020
Launch vehicle
Launch site
Spaceport, French Guiana (Guiana Space Center)
CNES, French DGA
Prime contractor(s)
Airbus Defence and Space
Sun-synchronous orbit


For its 10th and final launch of the year — and the fifth in 2020 with the Soyuz medium launcher — Arianespace will send the CSO-2 Earth observation satellite, intended for defense and security applications, into Sun-synchronous orbit.

CSO-2 will be launched for the French 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 also will be the 25th mission carried out by Soyuz from French Guiana since it began operating at the Guiana Space Center (CSG) in October 2011.

With this latest launch at the service of France’s defense requirements, as well as for the needs of several partner countries, Arianespace once again guarantees French and European autonomous access to space – a strategic priority.

11:42:07 a.m.
Washington, D.C.
01:42:07 p.m.
French Guiana
Universal Time (UTC)
05:42:07 p.m.
07:42:07 p.m.
01:42:07 a.m.



CSO-2 is the second satellite of the Optical Space Component (CSO – Composante Spatiale Optique) program, a constellation of three satellites dedicated to Earth observation for defense and security. They are being placed into polar orbits at different altitudes, and will carry out two different missions: reconnaissance for CSO-1 and CSO-3; and identification for CSO-2.

The French CNES space agency is delegated as the contracting authority for the Optical Space Component program and its mission ground segment, as well as being the overall system co-architect. CNES also is responsible for orbital positioning, in-orbit acceptance testing and satellite operation. The DGA is the contracting authority for the construction and through-life maintenance of the user ground segment, and will serve as the interface between the sensors deployed in space and the operators. The French armed forces headquarters is the operating authority for CSO.

Serving as the successor to the Helios 1 and 2 systems, CSO will address French operational needs for global intelligence and strategic surveillance, knowledge of the geographic environment, and support for operational deployments.

As France’s third generation of military satellites, CSO was developed in a national framework and will remain accessible to European partners. Indeed, Germany, Sweden and Belgium already have joined the CSO community, and an agreement with Italy is expected shortly.

The CSO-2 satellite will be placed in Sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 480 km. It will be used to acquire extremely-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 satellites, while Thales Alenia Space France supplies the optical imaging instrument. CSO-2 will be the 130th Airbus Defence and Space satellite to be launched by Arianespace.

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