Airbus Defence and Space

Space in daily life Press releases

Airbus Defence and Space: operational and commercial launch of the fully complete Pléiades constellation

• Airbus Defence and Space announces Pléiades 1B and SPOT 6 operational following their in-orbit validation

• Airbus Defence and Space Services is now the only operator in the world able to offer very-high-resolution images of any point on the globe taken by a constellation of identical satellites, on a daily basis

• Together with SPOT 6 and the soon-to-be-launched SPOT 7, the Pléiades satellites form a dual constellation of satellites to offer complementary performance in terms of image size and resolution

19 March 2013 – Airbus Defence and Space, Europe’s leading space technology company, has announced the operational and commercial launch of the fully complete Pléiades constellation as well as SPOT 6, following the successful in-orbit qualification of the Pléiades 1B and SPOT 6 satellites.

“Airbus Defence and Space will now distribute images from the twin Pléiades 1A and 1B satellites, operating as a fully fledged constellation”, said Airbus Defence and Space CEO Evert Dudok. “This configuration, the only one of its kind in the world, offers very-high-resolution daily revisits and guarantees an image in less than 24 hours from any point on the globe, as well as daily monitoring of any location and double the coverage.”

It is this daily revisit capability that makes geo-information services a reliable part of the strategic and economic decision-making process, offering Airbus Defence and Space’ customers a number of advantages. These are as follows: speedier access to images (war and crisis zones and natural disaster areas are visible in a matter of hours, anywhere in the world); the provision of images on a regular basis, enabling, for example, daily monitoring of activity at a specific location (rate of progress of civil engineering projects, surveillance of a military, industrial or mining sites, etc...); and twice the number of images (images are acquired twice as fast and with twice the chance of a cloud-free image being captured, making it the ideal configuration for mapping large areas).

Taken between 15 and 21 February 2013, this series of images of the port of Suez in Egypt perfectly illustrates the daily revisit potential of the Pléiades constellation. They show shipping activity, in particular the movement of ferries and commercial vessels at the entrance to the canal. All these images are available in jpeg or video stills at the website

Pléiades 1A and 1B are Europe’s first very-high-resolution Earth-observation satellites, and are positioned 180° apart in the same quasi-polar heliosynchronous orbit, at an altitude of 695 km. They offer exceptional performance in the civil market: 50 cm products over a 20 km footprint and excellent flexibility (rapid pointing) allowing multiple acquisition modes (stereo, mosaic, corridor, target). Thanks to their unparalleled ability to acquire 900 images a day, they also offer major operational advantages to users.

The SPOT 6 and SPOT 7 constellation will operate in conjunction with Pléiades and will offer 1.5 m resolution data over larger imaging swaths (60 km) for mapping very large areas. The Pléiades (1A and 1B) and SPOT 6 and 7 constellations will be stationed at equidistant points in the same orbit around the Earth, making Airbus Defence and Space the first operator in the world able to offer a complete range of Earth-observation data at different resolutions (from medium to very high resolution). What this means is that every point of the globe will now be visible in high and very-high resolution on a daily basis.