Pléiades Neo – The Countdown has Begun

It’s official. The world’s most advanced very high-resolution commercial satellite constellation, Pléiades Neo, is now only one year away, and preparations for the July 2020 launch are on track and advancing at pace.

Airbus’ latest constellation will consist of four identical optical satellites that will provide a range of exciting new benefits for both commercial and secured governmental applications. Foremost amongst these advantages is the satellites’ 30 cm spatial resolution, combined with the highest reactivity on the market and a step change in the speed of data delivery.

The latest technical update from the Pléiades Neo development team has revealed that assembly and testing of the first two platforms is almost complete. Launch services for all four satellites have also been confirmed with Arianespace; and a partnership with Swedish Space Corporation, for services relating to polar stations – providing telecommand and telemetry links with the constellation – has been agreed.

Launched in two phases, scheduled for 2020 and 2022, Pléiades Neo will be the first constellation to combine very high-resolution imagery with intraday revisit capabilities, doubling the daily opportunities to collect detail rich optical data of any location on Earth. The capacity to task each satellite at every orbit, at a frequency that is five times higher than previous generations of Airbus Pléiades satellites, provides several significant benefits, especially for time critical requirements and first-line response for civil and military applications.

Every day, the four Pléiades Neo satellites will capture an area of up to two million km2. This data will be streamed the same day to the Airbus OneAtlas online platform, where it will be automatically analysed to extract key information, using proprietary algorithms and the latest in machine learning. Collectively, these advancements will empower customers with the ability to access the freshest and most detailed imagery available, augmented with highly-valuable intelligence and analytics.

The Pléiades Neo constellation will also be equipped with laser communication terminals that are capable of further accelerating the delivery of data by leveraging the SpaceDataHighway, also known as the European Data Relay System (EDRS). Developed via a public-private partnership between Airbus and the European Space Agency, the SpaceDataHighway will provide near-real time data transmission in broadband quality.

“We’re committed to supporting the rapidly evolving needs of our customers, and the Pléiades Neo constellation is the perfect demonstration of this commitment in action. It is great to be able to highlight that we are fully on course with our announced launch schedule.

This new constellation, delivering high quality imagery at 30 cm resolution, will complement the Airbus fleet of optical and radar satellites, and provide our customers and partners with new opportunities for a large spectrum of services and applications”, commented François Lombard, Director of the Intelligence Business for Airbus Defence and Space.

Pléiades Neo Key Features

  • Number of satellites: 4 identical satellites in constellation
  • Orbit: Sun-synchronous, 10:30 a.m., Descending node, 620km altitude
  • Mission lifetime: >10 years
  • Spatial Resolution: 0.3m GSD
  • Geolocation accuracy: <5m CE90 at nadir
  • Spectral bands: Deep Blue, Blue, Green, Red, Red Edge, Near-infrared, Panchromatic
  • Global capacity: Up to 2million km²
  • Revisit capacity: Twice daily anywhere