July 28, 2021

More Space-Based Launches despite All Odds

The French spacecraft onboard the Soyuz’s successful space-bound voyage to take the French reconnaissance satellite to space on December 29, 2020.  The launch was one of the last deployments of an active space flight 2020; A Soyuz Rocket successfully introduced the French Identification Satellite on December 29, 2013.

The rocket launched at 11:42 is from the Guiana Space Centre in the French Central Guiana after it was postponed due to an extensive gusty wind. The launch started with two burns, whereafter it released its Composite Spatial Optique (CSO) 2 from the ship’s upper stage almost an hour after the raise. 

CSO-2 was a brainchild of a joint partnership between the French Military and Airbus Space. Thales Alenia Space provided the 3,562-kilogram satellite imaging package on the mission to provide high-resolution photographs, including capturing different optical and infrared wavelengths to allow analysis.

Since the deployment of the orbital based CSO-1 back in December 2018, the spaceship comes as the second part of a three-satellite launch catered inside the overall CSO framework. The CSO-1 launch acts in a prescheduled sun-synchronous orbit that the spaceship will travel, spanning over 800 kilometers in space. The mission, which serves as France’s recognition mission, is a significant step for the country in space exploration as it works to set its stake in the industry. Likewise, the CSO-2 will travel in a prescheduled 480-km orbit capable of generating higher quality images for a piece of information capturing mission. Come 2022, a third satellite, named the CSO-3, will be launched to complement the CSO-1 mission.

This launch marks Arianespace’s third Soyuz flight for the month. Records show that the company previously launched a satellite from a Soyuz from Guiana on December 1 and the United Arab Emirates’ Falcon Eye 2 imaging satellite.

Notwithstanding that there has been an almost five-month break from 2020 March to August due to the pandemic, Arianespace managed to perform ten launchings into low orbit. Arianespace further managed to launch two more Soyuz satellites from Baikonur Cosmodrome the last month and three previous Soyuz missions with additional three Ariane 5 launchers, the French-Guayan launching together with two Vega launches. Come November, one of Vegas dual launches ferrying two European science satellites failed because it had unsuitable for the thrust vector regulation in the upper stage of the rocket.

The space race continues to roll on despite the advent of the coronavirus pandemic. Despite the massive disruption from the virus, the space exploration industry managed to beat all odds and carry on with operations under the guidance of Covid-19 regulations. It is exciting to wait for what’s coming next to this upcoming year.