Airbus Defence and Space

Space in daily life Press releases

Pléiades 1B will join its twin Pléiades 1A to offer daily revisit in very high resolution

• Pléiades 1B, Europe’s second very-high-resolution satellite built by Airbus Defence and Space for the French space agency CNES is ready for launch from French Guiana on 30 November

• The satellite will join its twin, Pléiades 1A, to offer very-high-resolution optical products (50cm) and unique image acquisition modes (mosaics, corridor, 3D, etc.)

• For the first time, two very-high-resolution satellites will operate as a constellation, offering daily revisit capability to all users (rapid images, regular images, twice as many images)

27 November 2012 – Airbus Defence and Space, Europe’s leading space technology company, is prime contractor for the Pléiades 1B satellite scheduled for take-off on 30 November. The satellite will be lifting off aboard a Soyuz launcher from the European Space Centre in French Guiana, and has already been integrated on the Fregat upper stage of the launch vehicle and transferred to the launch pad. Pléiades 1B is now ready for flight.

“Once Pléiades 1B reaches orbit, Airbus Defence and Space will offer a daily very high resolution revisit capability,” said Evert Dudok, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space. “For users, Pléiades will soon mean rapid images, regular images and twice as many images in superb resolution.”

Daily revisit capabilities offer true added value for users of space imagery products around the world. The ability to image any place on Earth daily is an essential factor when the utmost reactivity is needed. Conflict zones and crisis/disaster areas will be visible in a matter of hours, wherever their location in the world and, in cases of natural disasters or crises, Pléiades is the perfect tool to help plan evacuation and rescue operations.

This feature also makes it possible to observe changes at specific sites every day (for instance, progress made on large-scale engineering construction projects, monitoring of mining, industrial and military complexes, etc). By doubling the daily collection capacity, and with images produced twice as rapidly, the Pléiades constellation offers users very-high-resolution imagery over large swaths; this makes it ideal for mapping large areas, with more opportunities to collect cloud-free images.

The two Pléiades satellites will be phased 180° apart in the same near-polar heliosynchronous orbit at an altitude of 694 km, enabling daily revisits to any location on the planet.

Pléiades 1B is the second dual-use, very-high-resolution satellite for the Pléiades constellation. Like its twin Pléiades 1A, which has been in orbit since December 2011, Pléiades 1B was manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse for the French space agency CNES. Thales Alenia Space provides the very high-resolution optical imaging instrument.

And also like its twin, Pléiades 1B will provide 50-centimetre products over a 20-kilometre footprint to the French and Spanish defence ministries, civil institutions, and to private users through Airbus Defence and Space, the exclusive distributor of Pléiades products for the civil market.

In addition to their high precision, the Pléiades satellites are also notable for their remarkable agility, which enables tilted imaging from nadir and operation in several acquisition modes (20 images over 1000 x 1000 km², stereo, 3D, mosaic, corridor, etc.).

For further information about the Pléiades satellites manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space:

To see a selection of very-high-resolution images from Pléiades 1A, go to:


About Airbus Defence and Space

Airbus Defence and Space is the number one company in Europe for space technologies and the third in the world. In 2011, Airbus Defence and Space had a turnover close to €5 billion and 18,000 employees worldwide, mainly in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Spain and the Netherlands.

Airbus Defence and Space is the sole European company that covers the whole range of civil and defence space systems and services.

Its three business units are: Airbus Defence and Space for launchers and orbital infrastructure; Airbus Defence and Space for spacecraft and ground segment; Airbus Defence and Space for comprehensive fixed and mobile end-to-end solutions covering secure and commercial satcoms and networks, high security and broadcast satellite communications equipment and systems, and bespoke geo-information services, worldwide.

Airbus Defence and Space is a wholly owned subsidiary of AIRBUS Group, a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2011, the Group – comprising Airbus, Airbus Defence and Space, Cassidian and Eurocopter – generated revenues of €49.1 billion and employed a workforce of over 133,000.



Press contacts:

Jeremy Close (Airbus Defence and Space UK)                                                       Tel.: +44 (0)1438 773872

Gregory Gavroy (Airbus Defence and Space FR)                                                    Tel.: +33 (0)1 77 75 80 32

Ralph Heinrich (Airbus Defence and Space GER)                                                   Tel.: +49 (0)89 607 33971

Francisco Lechón (Airbus Defence and Space SP)                                                 Tel.: +34 91 586 37 41