Pléiades Neo Well on Track
Things are moving quickly in the development of the new Pléiades Neo satellite constellation. The latest milestone to be reached is assembly of the first two high-resolution optical satellites, which was completed in November, in line with the launch schedule. The team behind the ambitious programme, which is based within Airbus Defence and Space’s facilities in Toulouse, France, is now shifting their effort onto the final testing phase.
The two first constructed satellites have begun their comprehensive environmental qualification to ensure full verification before in-orbit operation, in preparation for the launch planned for mid-2020. In parallel, the ground segment development has also entered its final testing phase, with the start of technical qualification aiming at validating the system’s operational procedures.
“When manufacturing a new satellite, we need to prove that it can survive in the harsh conditions experienced during the launch and then work perfectly for the planned mission lifetime in space. During this crucial final testing phase, the satellites are submitted to a representative environment: combination of extreme temperatures and vacuum, physical simulation of launch vibrations and acoustic noise, and electromagnetic environment. Our Toulouse teams are well prepared for this classical test sequence and are now focused on this final milestone”, said Lénaïc Le Hors, Project Manager for Space Systems at Airbus Defence and Space.
Integration of the following two satellites, to be launched in 2022, will start next year. When fully deployed, the Pléiades Neo constellation will consist of four identical optical satellites and offer both commercial and secured governmental customers, a host of unique benefits and performance improvements. The constellation will boast 30cm spatial resolution, the highest reactivity on the market and a step change in the speed of data delivery – making it the first constellation to combine very high-resolution imagery with intraday revisit anywhere capabilities.
"We are extremely proud to be on schedule, in line with the original plan established 4 years ago when the Pleiades Neo programme was initiated. It proves the reliability of Airbus Defence and Space’s commitment, based on the strength of our internal teams as well as the strong relationships we have with our industrial partners. By summer we will be ready to start the deployment of a fully integrated system, relying on very innovative satellites delivering high quality images at 30cm with the best reactivity for the most demanding customers across Airbus.” said Philippe Ghesquiers, Head of Pleiades Neo Program at Airbus Connected Intelligence.