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Six Airbus Defence and Space satellites on the same flight

Launch planned for mid-December

Six Airbus Defence and Space satellites to be launched on the second Soyuz flight from Kourou

Airbus Defence and Space is prime contractor for all six satellites to be launched in mid-December by the second Soyuz launcher to lift off from the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana.

The Pléiades 1 Very High Resolution (VHR) Earth observation satellite recently left Airbus Defence and Space’s site in Toulouse for Kourou. The four satellites of the Elisa constellation and the Chilean satellite SSOT arrived in Kourou on October 21.

This will be the first time that six satellites developed by Airbus Defence and Space are launched simultaneously.

Pléiades 1 is the first of two very high-resolution satellites manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse for CNES (the French Space Agency). It will be joined in space by its twin, Pléiades 2, in approximately one year’s time.

Once in orbit, each satellite will provide the French and Spanish defence ministries, and civilian users, with Very High Resolution (VHR) optical satellite imagery coupled with major operational advances. They offer incomparable image acquisition capacity, remarkable agility (rapid area targeting) for multiple target modes (stereo, mosaics, corridor or target) and excellent operational flexibility.

At an altitude of 700 km, the Pléiades constellation will be capable, after processing, to provide 50-cm resolution products with a swath width of 20 km.

The four satellites for the ELISA demonstrator are developed jointly by Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Systèmes Aéroportés for the French ministry of defence procurement agency (DGA) and CNES. ELISA will demonstrate spaceborne capabilities to map and characterise radar emissions from all around the globe. The four satellites are also based on the Myriade platform.

SSOT (Sistema Satelital para la Observación de la Tierra) is the most recent space-based Earth observation system exported by Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s number one exporter in the field. Ordered by Chile in late 2008, SSOT is based on two product families: the Myriade platform developed in cooperation with the CNES, and Naomi optical instruments, made of silicon carbide and used with success by Airbus Defence and Space for many other optical imagery missions.

The launching of six satellites in a single flight has been made possible thanks to the payload support structure developed at the Airbus Defence and Space site in Barajas, near Madrid.