Monday 28 December, Soyuz will lift off for the 25th time from Europe’s spaceport at the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), carrying the CSO-2 military observation and security satellite on behalf of CNES and the French defence procurement agency DGA for French Armed Forces High Command (EMA). This will be Soyuz’s second launch from the CSG in 2020 and the seventh flight of the year from the base.
As the successor to the Helios 1 and Helios 2 systems, CSO1 is designed to meet France and Europe’s operational requirements in intelligence, global strategic monitoring, geographic intelligence and field support. CSO-2 is the second in a constellation of three identical military observation satellites that will operate in different polar orbits to accomplish two missions: reconnaissance for CSO-1 and CSO-3, and identification for CSO-2, which will be joining CSO-1 launched in December 2018.
With a total launch mass of 3,562 kilograms, CSO-2 will be placed into a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 480 kilometres. It will acquire very-high-resolution day/night, clear-weather imagery in the visible and infrared in a range of viewing modes to serve a broad spectrum of operational requirements. It has an expected lifetime of 10 years.
CNES has delegated oversight responsibility for the CSO space component and the mission ground segment and is system co-architect. It is also in charge of satellite positioning, in-orbit checkout and operations. DGA has oversight responsibility for construction and sustainment of the user ground segment, which provides the interface between the space sensors and users. EMA is the CSO operating authority. Airbus Defence & Space is the satellite prime contractor, while Thales Alenia Space supplied the optical instrument. Although developed within a national framework, the CSO constellation is open to European partners through bilateral agreements with France. Belgium, Germany, Italy and Sweden have already joined the CSO community.
1 Composante Spatiale Optique