Ariane Aerospace launched a new reconnaissance satellite to the French military on Tuesday, December 29, marking the final mission of the European launch provider in 2020.
A Russian-made Soyuz rocket launched a satellite called Optical Space Component 2 (French called Composante Spatiale Optique 2, CSO-2) from the Guyana Space Center in Kuru, French Guiana, South America. The day was delayed due to bad weather, and the liftoff occurred at 11:42 AM Eastern Standard Time (1642 GMT).
CSO-2 is a next-generation earth imaging satellite designed to help replace France’s aging Helios 1 and 2 systems.
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“CSO-2 is the second in a constellation of three identical military observation satellites. These satellites will operate in different polar orbits to accomplish two missions: reconnaissance of CSO-1 and CSO-3, and monitoring of CSO- 2 will be identified and will be launched together with CSO-1 in December 2018,” the official of CNES, the French space agency responsible for monitoring the mission, said in a statement.
Airbus manufactured weighs 7,852 pounds. (3,562 kg) CSO-2 orbits the earth about 300 miles (480 kilometers), which is 500 miles (800 kilometers) longer than its predecessor, CSO-1. About an hour after liftoff, the satellite was successfully deployed.
CNES officials wrote in the statement: “It will obtain high-resolution day/night and clear weather images under visible light and infrared in various viewing modes to meet a wide range of operational needs.”
According to a report from Spaceflight Now, the CSO satellite is expected to have a resolution of approximately 14 inches (35 cm) from a 500-mile orbit. CNES-2 officials said that the design orbit life of CSO-2 is at least 10 years.
According to reports, the French government will spend 1.5 billion US dollars on the new CSO surveillance satellite program, which includes the cost of satellites and ground systems.
The successful launch of CSO-2 marks the tenth mission of Arianespace in 2020 and the fifth Soyuz flight this year. But even if the company goes bankrupt this year, it will conduct a series of Ariane 5, Vega and Soyuz flights in 2021, including the highly anticipated launch of the NASA James Webb Space Telescope on October 31.
Arianespace CEO Stéphane Israel (Stéphane Israël) said after the launch: “2021 will be intense for Arianespace.” “So, 2021 will definitely be very busy. That’s why we are here at the end of this year. Take a break.”
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