Pléiades 1a successfully orbited

Toulouse, 17 December 2011 - The Soyuz launcher has successfully orbited Pléiades 1a, the first agile, operationally responsive and very-high-resolution optical satellite, and the first of a constellation offering daily revisits to any point on the globe.

The gantry slides back and frees the pad for Soyouz launch © CNES 2011

The pad is freed to the imminent launch of Soyouz © CNES 2011

16 December 2011, Soyuz launched the Pléiades 1a satellite from the Guiana Space Centre (CSG), marking a new success for ESA, CNES and Arianespace, who jointly manage the CSG, after its first flight from the launch base on 21 October 2011. The launcher lifted off at 02:02:30 UTC and satellite separation occurred at 02:58 UTC over Perth, Australia. The satellite’s solar panels deployed 30 seconds later.

Pléiades 1a is now on the way to its final orbit at an altitude of 700 kilometres, where it will later be joined by Pléiades 1b, operating in the same orbit but phased 180° from its twin to form a constellation capable of revisiting any point on the globe every day.

Built by Astrium for the French space agency CNES, the Pléiades constellation offers users very-high-resolution 50-centimetre products with a ground swath of 20 kilometres, the largest in its class, and enhanced image location accuracy. Marketed by Astrium GEO-Information Services, Pléiades products will be available from March 2012.
Designed for emergency applications, the Pléiades constellation offers new services delivering precise geospatial information in record time and game-changing capabilities that mark a seismic shift in the Earth-imaging sector. With 450 images acquired every day by each satellite, 5 acquisition scenarios and 3 daily tasking plans, the Pléiades system is tailored to the needs of real-time applications.

The first of a new generation of satellites operated by Astrium Services, Pléiades 1a will be followed between 2012 and 2014 by SPOT 6, its twin Pléiades 1b and finally SPOT 7. Built around a similar architecture and phased in the same orbit, this constellation of 4 satellites will ensure even better responsiveness and availability of 50-centimetre-to-2-metre products through to 2023.