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Satnews Daily
July 8th, 2019

CNES Selects Airbus' "Significant Leap Forward" for EO ... Constellation Optique 3D 

Described as a significant leap forward of four identical satellites for global Earth observation the French Space Agency (CNES) has awarded the CO3D (Constellation Optique 3D) contract to Airbus. Under this agreement, Airbus will deliver a global high-resolution Digital Surface Model (DSM).

This new generation of extremely innovative agile satellites that are on all electric platforms, will initiate a new way of acquiring, processing and transferring images to the ground. Together with the four Pléiades Neo satellites, the CO3D constellation will offer unrivaled refresh rates for very high-resolution imagery. 

Following the launch that is expected by the end of 2022, the Airbus-made CO3D constellation, comprising of four identical satellites, will deliver 50cm resolution stereo imagery across the world on a daily basis. The data acquired will feed a cloud-based processing chain operated by Airbus and integrating CNES’ algorithms, to produce a cutting-edge 3D map of the Earth’s landmass.

Designed to weigh approximately 300kg (661.39 lbs), the CO3D satellites will join Airbus’ fleet of optical and radar satellites, strengthening the company’s ability to meet the growing needs of very demanding applications. 

CNES and Airbus' partnership with this project will bring an integrated and agile relationship between both partners that will enable the mission to be optimized to cover both private and public needs. Data collected by the CO3D constellation wil be available for scientific and defense institutional partners of the program.

Jean-Marc Nasr, Head of Space Systems at Airbus, said that the CO3D is a significant leap forward for global Earth observation, taking advantage of the latest Airbus innovations which will revolutionize access to very high-resolution 3D data. This contract confirms Airbus as the trusted partner for CNES and the French Authorities, and reinforces their leading market position in Europe and the world.

During the signature event, Jean-Yves Le Gall, President of CNES, declared that the new generation optical satellite constellation CO3D embodies French ambition and ingenuity and opens a new era for Earth observation. It will allow a higher refresh rate, improved performance and better resilience. This partnership between CNES and Airbus perfectly illustrates French excellence in Earth observation from space.