Arianespace will make its last launch of 2018 on Tuesday, using a Soyuz rocket to deploy a high-resolution imaging satellite for the French military. Soyuz is scheduled to lift off from the Centre Spatial Guyanais – near Kourou, French Guiana – at 13:37:14 local time (16:37 UTC), deploying its CSO-1 payload just over an hour later.
Tuesday’s launch will deploy CSO-1, the first of three satellites that will form the Composante Spatiale Optique (CSO), or Optical Space Component. These spacecraft will serve the French military, replacing the earlier Helios reconnaissance satellites. To develop the constellation, France’s Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA – Directorate General of Armaments) has entered into a partnership with the national space agency, CNES.
Airbus Defence and Space is the prime contractor for the three CSO satellites, which are based around its AstroSat-1000 platform. Each satellite has a mass of 3,565 kilograms (7,859 pounds) and is expected to operate for at least ten years. The imaging systems were produced by Thales Alenia Space. From sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of about 800 kilometers (497 miles, 432 nautical miles), CSO-1 is expected to be able to image the Earth at resolutions of about 35 centimeters (14 inches).