Arianespace Vega Launcher Orbits Italian, Israeli Spy Satellites

A Perfect “10” – Arianespace’s Lightweight Vega Orbits OPTSAT-3000 and Venµs On a Milestone Success

(Source: Arianespace; issued August 2, 2017)

For its second launch of the year, Arianespace’s Vega launcher orbited a spy satellite for the Italian MoD and an observation satellite for Israel’s Ministry of Science. Both were built by Israel Aerospace Industries. (Arianespace photo)

For the second time this year – and the 10th overall since entering service in 2012 – Vega has successfully launched a payload from the Spaceport, with this lightweight vehicle’s latest mission delivering the OPTSAT-3000 and Venµs Earth observation satellites to Sun-synchronous orbits.

Lifting off from the Spaceport’s SLV launch complex at precisely 10:58:33 p.m. French Guiana time on August 1, Vega lofted its multi-passenger payload during a flight sequence lasting 1 hour, 37 minutes.

Speaking from the Spaceport’s Jupiter control room, Arianespace Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Israël declared the launch a success and reflected on Vega’s new “10-for-10” operational record, which includes four of these successes achieved during the past 11 months.

He added: “In five years of activity, our lightweight vehicle already has orbited a total of 25 satellites for 19 customers worldwide, both institutional and commercial, serving a wide range of space applications, such as Earth observation, science, technology and education.”

Delivering OPTSAT-3000 for Italy

During the initial phase of the mission – designated Flight VV10 in Arianespace’s launcher family numbering system – Vega was powered by its three solid propellant stages, which was followed by multiple burns of the bi-propellant upper stage, before separate deployments of the two spacecraft.

The first passenger released by Vega, OPTSAT-3000, is an Earth observation satellite for the Italian Ministry of Defence. It was built by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) based on inter-governmental Italian-Israeli agreements, and once operational, will enable national defense entities to acquire and use high-resolution imagery from any part of the globe.

The OPTSAT-3000 system was supplied by Telespazio as prime contractor, which has responsibility for the entire system; while OHB Italia was responsible for the launch services and related engineering support.

Stéphane Israël congratulated all the partners involved with OPTSAT-3000, and gave special thanks to the Italian Ministry of Defence, adding: “We are very proud to have delivered for Italy with our most Italian launcher, Vega.”

General Enzo Vecciarelli, Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force, acknowledged the “superb capabilities of a great team” that was responsible for OPTSAT-3000’s development and launch. In comments at the Spaceport’s control center, he noted it marks another step forward in European cooperation in space, “which is something that we really need, because we live in a critical time for the security and stability environment – where there is a lack of situational awareness.”

Venµs: an Israeli-French collaboration

The second passenger orbited on Flight VV10 – Venµs, also produced by Israel Aerospace Industries — is an Earth observation and exploratory mission for the Israel Space Agency (ISA) and France’s CNES space agency at the benefit of Israel’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Space.

Venµs (an acronym for “Vegetation and Environment monitoring on a New Micro Satellite”) will study the evolution of Earth’s vegetation during its scientific mission, while the satellite’s technological mission will provide in-flight qualification of the Israeli electrical propulsion system, based on Hall-Effect thrusters. CNES is in charge of the multi-spectral camera, its image programming and processing, as well as the distributing ground station; while the camera’s development was performed for CNES by Elbit Electro-Optic Systems, Elop Ltd.

Arianespace’s CEO welcomed and thanked the leaders from Israel and France’s space agencies in attendance for the launch, and added that he hopes this flight serves as a benchmark for further ambitious space cooperation between Israel and France.

Peretz Vazan, Director General of Israel’s Ministry of Science, Technology and Space, called the launch a “spectacular event,” and provided his “mazel tov” (congratulations, in Hebrew) to all involved in the success.

An eye on the future

In addition to bringing Vega’s tally of successes to double-digits, Flight VV10 also marked its first launch under a new operational organization between Arianespace and the vehicle’s production prime contractor, Italy’s Avio.

Under the new arrangement aimed at enhancing competitiveness, Avio now assumes responsibility for preparing the launcher until liftoff; while Arianespace maintains full responsibility for customer relations, as well as operations for the final countdown and launch decision.

Reinforcing Arianespace’s continued focus on innovation, Flight VV10’s Vega also utilized a new “out of autoclave” payload fairing that was developed by RUAG for the next-generation Vega C launcher, with the manufacturing process also to be applied to payload fairings for the follow-on Ariane 6 heavy-lift vehicle.

Flight VV10 continues Arianespace’s busy schedule in 2017, in which eight launches were performed during the year’s first seven months utilizing the company’s family of launchers (two with the lightweight Vega; two with the medium-lift Soyuz; and four using the heavy-lift Ariane 5).

The company’s next mission is scheduled for early September, when Ariane 5 will lift off from French Guiana on a flight to geostationary transfer orbit with a pair of relay satellites: Intelsat 37e and BSAT-4a.


The OPTSAT-3000 Earth Observation Satellite of the Italian Defence Has Been Successfully Launched

(Source: Leonardo; issued Aug. 2, 2017)

-- The whole satellite system is supplied by Leonardo through Telespazio - a joint venture with Thales -, first contractor leading an international group of companies
-- OPTSAT-3000 will guarantee full high-resolution coverage of the whole Earth, improving the operational and intelligence capabilities of the Italian Defence
-- Profumo: “We are proud to have lead a strategic program for our national security up to this important target, confirming once again the capability of Leonardo to play a leading role in major space projects”

The Italian Ministry of Defence’s OPTSAT-3000 satellite has been successfully launched at 1.58 UTC. The launch has been performed by Arianespace from the Kourou European spaceport in the French Guyana, with a VEGA European launcher, produced by AVIO. The satellite separated from the upper stage of the launcher 42 minutes after the launch, and the first telemetry signal has been acquired approximately 5 hours after.

The whole system is supplied by Leonardo through Telespazio (Leonardo 67%, Thales 33%). As prime contractor, Telespazio leads an international group of companies including, among others, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which built the satellite within an international co-operation agreement between Italy and Israel as well as OHB Italia, responsible for the launch services.

Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo, commented: “With the launch of OPTSAT-3000, Italy has acquired an asset capable of significantly improving the country’s defence and protection capabilities. We are proud to have contributed to the achievement of this important target, bringing to bear our outstanding capabilities and technologies in a leadership role on a strategic national security programme. With OPTSAT-3000, Leonardo continues to be a major player in international space projects”.

OPTSAT-3000 consists of a satellite in a sun-synchronous LEO (Low Earth Orbit) orbit and of a Ground Segment for in-orbit control and for data acquisition and processing. OPTSAT-3000 will provide high-resolution images of any part of the globe, providing Italy with an autonomous national capability of Earth observation from space with a high-resolution optical sensor.

After the successful launch, system check and test activities have now started; the system will then be entirely managed by the Italian ground segment, located over three operation centres: the Joint Satellite Remote Survey Centre (CITS – Centro Interforze di Telerilevamento Satellitare) in Pratica di Mare (Roma), the SICRAL Joint Management and Control Centre (CIGC - Centro Interforze di Gestione e Controllo) in Vigna di Valle (Rome) and the Fucino (L’Aquila) Space Centre of Telespazio.

OPTSAT-3000 will jointly operate with the second-generation COSMO-SkyMed system of radar satellites – which has also been developed by Italian industry, with Leonardo and its joint ventures, Thales Alenia Space (Thales 67%, Leonardo 33%) and Telespazio – integrating optical and radar data to provide the Italian Ministry of Defence with information characterised by extreme accuracy, resolution and completeness and with state-of-the-art analysis and operational tools.


Elbit Systems' Space Imaging Systems, JUPITER and VENµS, Were Launched Onboard OPTSAT 3000 and VENµS Satellites

(Source: Elbit Systems; issued August 2, 2017)

Elbit Systems announced that two of its advanced space imaging systems, Jupiter and Venus, were launched to space on August 2nd. The high-resolution reconnaissance Jupiter imaging system, for the Italian Ministry of Defense, were launched onboard the IAI OPTSAT 3000 satellite. The super spectral VENµS imaging system was launched onboard the French-Israeli Venus environmental satellite. Both satellites were launched from French Guiana onboard an Arianespace Vega rocket.

The JUPITER space camera provides spatial resolutions of 0.5-meter resolution (PAN) from an altitude of 600 km and is Elbit Systems’ most advanced light-weighted space imaging system developed for installation on micro and mini-satellites. The JUPITER imaging system contains very high resolution panchromatic imaging and has the capability of adding a multi-spectral (MS) channel.

JUPITER is designed for a range of military and civilian applications including advanced military surveillance and reconnaissance, detailed high value target investigation, definition of small and discrete objects and situational awareness. The civilian applications include homeland security missions, emergency planning and operations, environmental monitoring, and infrastructure imaging.

The VENµS space camera features 12 narrow spectral bands with 5.3-meter spatial resolution from an altitude of 720 km. The VENµS satellite has been developed and manufactured as a joint effort between the French Centre National d' Etudes Spatiales (CNES), the Israeli Space Agency (ISA), Elbit Systems’ Electro-optics (Elop) and Israel Aerospace Industries.

The VENµS imaging system provides multi-spectral high-resolution earth imaging, previously unmet by legacy space imaging systems for a variety of applications, including a global scale monitoring of agriculture, receding of forests and vegetation, desertification, air pollution, the detection of volcanic ashes, dehydration of water reservoirs as well as oil spills and water contamination. VENµS will play a vital role in creating guidelines for future scientific experiments and space imaging missions.

Elbit Systems’ Electro-optics Elop is a global leader in space cameras, with systems in use in a wide variety of major space programs for military, commercial and scientific applications, including Israel's Ofeq family of satellites, the EROS program of ImageSat International and a satellite of the Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI).

Elbit Systems Ltd. is an international high technology company engaged in a wide range of defense, homeland security and commercial programs throughout the world. The Company, which includes Elbit Systems and its subsidiaries, operates in the areas of aerospace, land and naval systems. The Company also focuses on the upgrading of existing platforms, developing new technologies for defense, homeland security and commercial applications and providing a range of support services, including training and simulation systems.


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