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Airbus Launches PLÉIADES NEO 4

Second of Four-Satellite Constellation Approaching Final Orbit

Airbus launched PLÉIADES NEO 4, the second spacecraft of the four-satellite constellation of Earth observation satellites manufactured, owned and operated by the company, on 16 August.

Launched by the Arianespace VEGA rocket from French Guiana, the satellite will reach its final 620km sun-synchronous orbit in the next few days. It will be phased 180° with 3 to start forming the constellation which, when completed, will enable 30cm native resolution imaging of any location on Earth between two and four times per day.

PLÉIADES NEO will offer a truly best-in-class capability to our customers and will strongly enhance our position in the very high-resolution market […] The first images from PLÉIADES NEO 3 are outstanding and confirm that we took the right decision in terms of design and performance to address the increasingly demanding requirements of the geospatial sector.” observed François Lombard, Head of Intelligence at Airbus Defence and Space.

The constellation will feature an imaging swath of 14km – the widest in its category – meaning it will be able to cover the entire Earth landmass five times per annum. The new satellites will work hand in hand with the existing PLÉIADES satellites and the rest of the Airbus dozen-strong Earth observation satellite fleet. The highly innovative design of the PLÉIADES NEO spacecraft is equipped with a next-generation silicon carbide optical instrument, building on technology Airbus first pioneered in the early 2000s. The constellation will also benefit from laser optical and Ka-band links with the Airbus SpaceDataHighway (EDRS) geostationary satellites to enable urgent acquisitions less than 40 minutes after tasking, enabling swift response to the most critical situations.


The VEGA launcher ready to propel PLÉIADES NEO 4 into orbit. (Photo: ESA-CNES-Arianespace)

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