Astrium has built six satellites, ready for launch on 16 December on the second Soyuz flight from the Kourou space port in French Guiana.

The satellites include Pléiades 1a, the first of two dual-use, high resolution satellites to form the Pléiades constellation, while Pleiades 1b is planned to be in orbit within the next year.

After the launch, each satellite will provide 70cm resolution images, with products down to 50cm following resampling, over an area of 20km to the French and Spanish ministries of defence, as well as civilian institutions.

The Pleiades satellites will gather images at any point within 1,500km of their position in different acquisition modes and are capable of providing up to 450 images per day.

The constellation will be positioned in a sun-synchronous, quasi-polar orbit at an altitude of 700km.

The other satellites include four Elisa satellites and the Sistema Satelital para la Observación de la Tierra (SSOT) satellite.

Astrium developed the SSOT space-based observation system for Chile in two years following an order in 2008, which also included an operational ground segment based in Santiago.

SSOT is based on two product families, which include the Myriade platform, developed jointly with CNES, and the Naomi family of silicon carbide optical instruments, used by Astrium for many other optical imagery missions.

The Elisa demonstrators will be launched for the French pefence procurement agency (DGA), to demonstrate the capability to map and characterise radar emissions from any point on the globe.

The DGA has awarded a contract to Astrium Satellites and Thales Systemes Aeroportes to develop four Elisa satellites based on the Myriade platform, together with the ground segment.

The six units were manufactured at the Astrium site in Toulouse, France, while the dispenser was built at Astrium’s Barajas plant in Spain.