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Pleiades 1 is readied for launch
by Staff Writers
Kourou, French Guiana (SPX) Nov 24, 2011

File image.

The Pleiades 1 Earth observation satellite payload for Arianespace's second Soyuz mission from French Guiana is undergoing pre-launch checkout at the Spaceport as this platform is readied for flight with five co-passengers.

Built by prime contractor EADS Astrium for the French CNES space agency, Pleiades 1 will provide military and civilian users with very high resolution optical satellite imagery from a 700-km. orbit - offering 50-cm. resolution imaging products at a coverage swath width of 20 km.

Pleiades 1's design was driven by considerations for image quality, operational agility and image location accuracy.

The result is a compact design based on a hexagonal-shaped spacecraft, with three solar arrays positioned at 120 deg. and three star trackers in a quasi-tetrahedron configuration to optimize the attitude determination accuracy.

For Arianespace's December 16 Soyuz mission, Pleiades 1 will be launched along with four ELISA demonstrator satellites, which were developed by Astrium and Thales Systemes Aeroportes for the French DGA defense ministry procurement agency and CNES.

These spacecraft will be used for electronic intelligence (ELINT) mapping of radars and other transmitters worldwide and the determination of their technical characteristics.

In addition, the upcoming Soyuz flight will carry the Astrium-built SSOT (Sistema Satelital para la Observacion de la Tierra) Earth observation satellite for Chile.

Both SSOT and the ELISA spacecraft use the Myriade microsatellite platform developed under French CNES leadership, which weighs in at less than 200 kg. and offers low-cost access to space.

The upcoming Soyuz mission follows Arianespace's introduction of this legendary medium-lift vehicle from French Guiana with its successful October 21 maiden launch.

Soyuz joins the heavy-lift Ariane 5 workhorse in side-by-side operations at the Spaceport, with Arianespace's launcher family to be completed at French Guiana in 2012 by the lightweight Vega.

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