The SPOT 7 Earth-observation satellite, designed and developed by Airbus Defence and Space (formerly Astrium), was launched on 30 June at 6:22 am (Paris time) by a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in India.
It will now join the orbit in which its twin, SPOT 6, and the very-high-resolution observation satellites Pléiades 1A and 1B are located, and will be positioned at 180° in relation to SPOT 6. After it has undergone a period of tests in orbit, Airbus Defence and Space’s optical constellation will be at its full operational capacity.
The company will thus operate a constellation of four optical satellites. This means that every day, every point on the globe can be viewed both in high resolution by a SPOT satellite and in very high resolution by a Pléiades satellite. While SPOT 6 and 7 will cover wider areas with a resolution of 1.5 m, Pléiades 1A and 1B will be focused on more targeted zones with a greater level of detail (50 cm products).
“The services provided by this optical constellation are further enhanced by the TerraSAR-X and TanDEM-X radar satellites’ capabilities,” said Evert Dudok, head of communications, intelligence & security (CIS) at Airbus Defence and Space. “This complementarity between optical and radar, coupled with different resolutions, means we are the only company worldwide who offers our customers these unique services.”
With both SPOT 6 and SPOT 7 satellites in orbit, acquisition capacity will be boosted to six million square kilometres per day – an area ten times the size of France. The SPOT 6/7 constellation thus considerably improves the capabilities and performance offered by SPOT 5, which has been in operation since 2002 and will be decommissioned from commercial service during the first quarter of 2015. This new constellation offers a higher resolution, greater programming reactivity and a much higher volume of images acquired daily (in monoscopic or stereoscopic mode).
In addition, SPOT 6 and SPOT 7 are agile satellites that can be quickly aimed at a point on the Earth within up to 1,500 km of their position. They are designed to remain in service for at least 10 years.
This launch also constitutes an important step in the process of finalising a strategic cooperation agreement with Azerbaijani satellite operator Azercosmos, which is looking at joint use of the satellites and to expand its own capacities in the field of geo-information.
Azercosmos and Airbus Defence and Space signed an agreement in principle on this in May of this year.