Arianespace’s workhorse Soyuz was back in action on December 29, delivering the French CSO-2 Earth Observation (EO) satellite into SSO from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
This launch, which began at the exact liftoff time of 1:42:07 p.m., deployed the spacecraft passenger during a mission that lasted just under one hour.
It was Arianespace’s 10th and final flight of 2020 – and the fifth this year using the medium-lift Soyuz vehicle – coming just 11 days after another Soyuz was launched by the company and its Starsem affiliate from Russia’s Vostochny Cosmodrome to deliver 36 satellites for the OneWeb constellation
The 2020 operations with Soyuz underscored the medium-lift launcher’s exceptional flexibility for Arianespace’s launch services offering, having been used during the year from three different facilities: the Guiana Space Center in South America; Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome; and Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia.
This mission, designated Flight VS25 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system, used a Soyuz ST-A version and was performed for the French CNES space agency and the DGA defense procurement agency. The CSO-2 satellite will be operated on behalf of the French armed forces and the country’s Space Command.
CSO-2 serves the defense and security needs of France, as well as the requirements of several partner countries, acquiring very-high-resolution images in the visible and infrared wavelengths – day or night and in fair weather – using a variety of imaging modes to meet a broad range of operational needs.
France’s Optical Space Component (CSO – Composante Spatiale Optique) program is composed of three satellites serving two mission requirements: reconnaissance for CSO-1 and CSO-3; identification for CSO-2. The initial satellite in this system, CSO-1, was orbited by Arianespace on a Soyuz mission in December of 2018 that also was performed from the Spaceport in French Guiana.
Airbus Defence and Space France is prime contractor for the CSO satellites, while Thales Alenia Space France supplies the optical imaging instrument. On this mission, CSO-2 was the 130th Airbus Defence and Space-built satellite launched by Arianespace.
For Flight VS25, Soyuz lifted off from its purpose-built ELS launch complex, which is situated Spaceport’s northwestern sector near the town of Sinnamary. This was the 25th mission from French Guiana with Soyuz since the launcher’s introduction at the Spaceport in October 2011.