The FalconEye satellite is a high performance optical Earth-observation satellite system for the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates (UAEAF) manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space as prime contractor and Thales Alenia Space as co-prime.
The overall system is based on two identical satellites, FalconEye1 and FalconEye2, in Sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). Each satellite features an Earth observation payload, with very-high-resolution optical capabilities. It is equipped with a ground system for monitoring, receiving and processing the images.
Upon the system delivery, Emirati engineers will control and operate the spacecraft.
The FalconEye1 satellite, to be orbited by Flight VV15, will be the first space component of the system, and will have a dual use purpose: support the needs of UAE Armed Forces, and provide the commercial market with images.
It will weigh approximately 1,197 kg. at launch and will be raised to a heliosynchronous orbit at 611 kilometers.
FalconEye2 will be launched later this year, also utilizing a Vega vehicle.
As satellite prime contractor, Airbus Defence and Space was in charge of the satellite design, integration and tests, and supplied the platform.
FalconEye1 is the 131th Airbus Defence and Space satellite to be launched by Arianespace. There currently are 20 Airbus Defence and Space satellites in Arianespace’s backlog.
Thales Alenia Space, as co-prime, designed and supplied the Optical Instrument and the image chain. Arianespace had launched 159 satellites for the co-prime of this program, and there are seven additional Thales Alenia Space satellites in Arianespace’s order book.
The FalconEye program relies on a heritage from previous French national satellite programs, such as Pleiades.