SSOT is Chile’s first high-resolution operational Earth observation system. This agile satellite, also known as “FASat Charlie,” was built by Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse and launched in 2011.

The fifth birthday of a success story

Airbus Defence and Space developed the SSOT (Sistema Satelital de Observación de la Tierra) Earth observation system for the Chilean government in order for Chile to access extremely high-quality satellite images. In Chile, the spacecraft is better known as "FASat-Charlie".

This imagery is exploited in a wide range of applications such as mapping, agriculture, urban planning, military intelligence and natural resource, risk and disaster management.

The high-resolution optical observation satellite is based on the AstroBus-XS platform, originally developed jointly by Airbus Defence and Space and the French national space agency CNES. The complete system was built, integrated and tested by Airbus Defence and Space in our facilities in Toulouse, France.

The SSOT satellite was launched aboard a Soyuz rocket from the European spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, on 16 December 2011.

An example of the imagery supplied by Chile’s first high-resolution operational Earth observation system, SSOT (Sistema Satelital de Observación de la Tierra), which was built by Airbus.
A computer rendering of the in-orbit configuration for the SSOT (Sistema Satelital de Observación de la Tierra) Earth observation satellite, built by Airbus for Chile.

SSOT: an invaluable support to the Chilean air force

The SSOT programme is a result outcome of the Chilean Air Force’s (FACh) ambition to develop a national spatial capacity for Earth observation for a dual use: defence and sustainable development of Chile.

The NAOMI optical instrument has a panchromatic resolution of 1.45 metres, an unprecedented performance for a satellite weighing only 117 kg.

Airbus Defence and Space was the prime contractor for the complete system including the satellite, the Ground Control Segment and the Image Ground Segment located in Santiago, Chile. This infrastructure enables the Chilean authorities to control and operate their own satellite from their National territory. As part of the cooperation agreement, 20 Chilean engineers benefited from a comprehensive training programme. During the construction of the satellite, they worked alongside Airbus Defence and Space’s development team in Toulouse, France, where they were trained.

The satellite launch was also part of Airbus Defence and Space’s responsibilities.

The SSOT (Sistema Satelital de Observación de la Tierra) Earth observation satellite, built by Airbus for Chile, is shown in the clean room during integration.
A close-up view of an engineer supporting satellite integration procedures in clean room settings.
Integration of the multi-payload carrying structure for the launch that orbited Chile’s first high-resolution operational Earth observation satellite – the Airbus-produced SSOT – among other spacecraft

Airbus Defence and Space is proud to have developed and delivered a powerful Earth observation satellite to the Chilean authorities and to have done so in optimum conditions, with performance matching perfectly the requirements and even exceeding the customers’ expectations

François Auque, Former Airbus Defence and Space CEO

A privileged partnership with Chile

Comprehensive Training Programme

Chilean engineers benefited from our overall training approach:

  • Technical and academic training
  • On-the-job training
  • Knowledge and know-how transfers

Technology Transfer

Active participation of Chilean engineers throughout all development phases:

  • Design
  • Assembly, Integration and testing (AIT)
  • Launch
  • System Operation

A Complete Ground Segment

The construction of a complex ground segment was also part of our packaged offer:

  • Ground control station
  • Bi-band antenna station
  • Image processing center
  • Related infrastructure

The Launch Services

Our comprehensive solution included a full spectrum of services for a successful in-orbit delivery of the satellite:

  • Launcher procurement
  • Launch campaign
  • Launch insurance
  • Early in-orbit operations


Earth observation



SSOT - FaSat



Capacity building

ESA preferred partner

Tomorrow’s Weather and Future Climate

Back to top