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Thales launches CSO-2 spacecraft successfully into space

Arianespace officially deployed the military surveillance satellite by using Soyuz rocket from Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, following the deployment of CSO-1 in 2018 December. Comprising a high-resolution optical device designed by Thales Alenia Space, a partnership between Thales (67 percent) and Leonardo (33 percent), the satellite was established by Airbus Defence and Space as the primary contractor of the Directorate-General for Armament (DGA), with the assigned contracting authority of the French space agency CNES.

Built within the framework of MUSIS (Multinational Space-based Imaging System for Detection, Identification and Observation), CSO (Composante Spatiale Optique) family consists of 3 Sun-synchronous orbit observation satellites, each equipped with the high-resolution optical device. A successor to the Helios 2, this program is meant for French defence applications, and it will help boost the intelligence and tactical support capability of the government.

The instrument works day and night with a higher image resolution compared to that of the previous generation and provides greater versatility to capture consecutive photographs of disaster areas. Moreover, it can give a higher series of photos taken over a specified zone in one pass. As with the six satellites of the Helios 1, Helios 2 as well as Pleiades families, Thales Alenia Space provides the high-resolution optical observation device for the 3 CSO satellites.

Essential equipment has also been developed by the company, like high-throughput image telemetry, solar arrays, uplink, downlink authentication modules, and telemetry, monitoring, and command transponders. The CSO device provides major enhancements over Helios 2, namely new detectors throughout the infrared bands, more fully advanced video electronics, a new infrared channel cooling mechanism, and a new ceramic frame meant for the telescope to maintain outstanding stability.

Robust, accurate and stable, considering the extremely challenging orbital setting, the high-resolution optical device on CSO satellites will take razor-sharp images of scenes when flying from the Low Earth orbit at about 25,000 km/h. Hervé Derrey, who works at Thales Alenia Space as Chief Executive and President, said “Today we are marking the launch of CSO-2, which features the most versatile space camera ever developed in Europe. We are very fortunate to have constructed the brains of the satellite, the telephoto lens and circuitry.”

Massimo Comparini, who serves as the head of the Observation, Discovery and Navigation division at the Thales Alenia Space, stated that the year was an excellent year for Thales Alenia Space operations’ Earth observation. After winning 5 contracts for Europe’s comprehensive environmental monitoring scheme, Copernicus Extension, with three as prime, one deal to build two more COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation satellites, with this amazing mission, they are closing the year on a good note. For intelligence as well as defense operations support, the CSO-2 device is state-of-the-art in high-resolution optical payloads.

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