Both the SPOT 6 and SPOT 7 satellites were manufactured in only three and a half years thanks to Airbus Defence and Space’s expertise in space technology. SPOT 7 will join its twin, SPOT 6, to provide an even better high- resolution service until 2024.
Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, is making final preparations for the launch of SPOT 7, its new high-resolution Earth observation satellite. In the next few days, it will be integrated on the PSLV launcher that will place it in orbit from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota, India. SPOT 7 has a service life of 10 years.
“It took just three and a half years to design and manufacture the SPOT 6 and 7 satellite system, a record time. This has made the SPOT 6 and SPOT 7 programme a global benchmark, through the use of our technological expertise to enhance quality, speed of delivery and reduce the level of risk involved in the projects,” said Head of Space Systems François Auque.
Compared with previous SPOT missions, the performance of the ground segment and the satellites themselves has been significantly improved, particularly with regard to responsiveness – from satellite programming through to the delivery of data to users – and acquisition capacity.
SPOT 6 and SPOT 7 are agile satellites that can quickly be pointed anywhere within an area of 1,500 km of their position, while also enabling daily revisits to any point on the globe, providing a total coverage of six million square kilometres every day.
SPOT 7 will deliver imaging products with a resolution of up to 1.5 metres, thereby improving the service provided by the SPOT 5 satellite, which has been in operation since 2002. It will join its twin, SPOT 6, which was launched at the end of 2012, to complete Airbus Defence and Space’s globally unique constellation, which combines these two high-resolution satellites and the two very-high-resolution satellites Pleiades 1A and Pleiades 1B in the same orbit.
This constellation will offer the company’s customers the chance to access wholly new applications with unequalled lead times. As a result, every point of the globe will be visible every day both in high resolution and very high resolution. While the SPOT satellites will provide images over large areas, the Pleiades satellites will be able to deliver products that “zoom in” on these same areas, i.e. with a more restricted field of view but in far greater detail (50 cm).
SPOT 7 is equipped with a Flash-type memory, as is SPOT 6, which was a world first for a commercial satellite at the time. By comparison to the previous generation, this offers 60- percent better performance and is also 2.5 times lighter, 5 times smaller and consumes 3.5 times less power. Widely used in mass-market electronics, this technology has now proven that it meets the very strict quality standards required for space missions and works in orbit.
Based on the Astrobus platform designed by Airbus Defence and Space, SPOT 7 offers unparalleled performance compared with the previous generation and is also four times lighter (weighing 720 kg to SPOT 5’s three tonnes). The Astrobus platform combines speed of construction and unrivalled value for money and is being used for a variety of missions that include imaging (Pleiades, SPOT 6/7, Ingenio etc), environmental monitoring and meteorology (Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-5P). On the cutting edge of global technology, the system also benefits from the unique expertise developed by Airbus Defence and Space in the field of silicon carbide (SiC) space structures and instruments. Together with its partner Boostec, the company has created, through a number of achievements in space (Herschel, Gaia, etc.), a successful economic sector, with the SiC produced in the Midi-Pyrénées region being exported around the world.
Airbus Defence and Space is a division of Airbus Group formed by combining the business activities of Cassidian, Astrium and Airbus Military. The new division is Europe’s number one defence and space enterprise, the second largest space business worldwide and among the top ten global defence enterprises. It employs some 40,000 employees generating revenues of approximately €14 billion per year.
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