CSO-1 satellite
20 December 2018

CSO-1 satellite successfully launched!

France applauds the successful launch of the military observation CSO-1 (Optical Space Component). CSO-1 was sent into orbit on Wednesday 19 December 2018 from the Guiana Space Centre.


Observing the orbit launch via videoconference, the Minister for the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, thanked all the teams who worked to ensure its success. The Minister also stressed the importance of CSO, a major programme for France’s strategic autonomy, intelligence capability and conduct of military operations.

This launch marks the beginning of the renewal of all French Defence space capabilities. The complete renewal will take place over the period of the military programming law 2019-2025, in the areas of observation, communications and electromagnetic intelligence.

The CSO constellation, comprising three satellites, is the first of a new generation of military observation satellites that will be fully deployed by 2021, replacing the Helios 2 satellites that are currently in operation. CSO provides imaging quality that is unparalleled in Europe, allowing armed forces access to a higher level of detail, delivering significant added value for intelligence and targeting activities. CSO is also a state-of-the art system giving users, in a single overhead pass, more images of the same geographical area. Finally, its response capabilities allow it to better adapt to the pace of operations being carried out.

A project open to European partnerships

The CSO project, developed within a national framework as part of the MUSIS (Multinational Space-based Imaging System) programme, is resolutely open to European partnerships through bilateral agreements: Germany, Sweden and Belgium have already joined the CSO community via cooperation agreements; agreements with other European countries are under discussion.

The Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) is responsible for managing the MUSIS programme, within an integrated team with the Joint Command for Space of the General Staff of the Armed Forces. The DGA itself oversees the user ground segments, as well as all aspects related to the establishment of cooperation partnerships. The DGA has delegated overall coordination of the production and launch of the CSO satellites to the National Centre for Space Studies (CNES), as well as the implementation of the mission ground segment. Contracting for the MUSIS system components will involve a number of industry firms including Airbus Defence & Space, Thales Alenia Space, Thales Services, Capgemini and Arianespace.


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