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PeruSat-1 To Share Vega With Skybox Imaging Smallsats

Peru’s first Earth observation satellite will share a ride to low Earth orbit with four small Skybox Imaging satellites planned to launch next year on a European Vega rocket.

Built by Airbus Defense and Space for the government of Peru, the 450-kg (990-lb.) Perusat-1 is a high-resolution optical remote-sensing satellite designed to operate in a Sun-synchronous orbit.

Managed by European launch consortium Arianespace, the launch of PeruSat-1 and its four Skybox co-passengers is set for 2016 from the Guiana Space Center in Kourou, French Guiana.

Arianespace Chairman and CEO Stephane Israel says the agreement is the third that the launch services company has signed for Vega this year. It follows the Skybox agreement announced at the Satellite 2015 show in Washington last week, a deal that marks Vega’s first U.S. customer.

“With this third launch contract since the start of the year, Vega consolidates its leadership in the export market, for both governmental and commercial missions,” he said. “We are extremely proud and honored to be able to serve the Peruvian government through this upcoming launch.”

With PeruSat-1, the Peruvian defense ministry becomes the launch customer for the Airbus AstroBus-S spacecraft bus, which the company says uses technologies that combine performance with shortened production cycles by incorporating know-how gleaned from work on other high-resolution remote-sensing spacecraft.

“The reliability of this platform is the result of the expertise acquired through the development of more complex variants,” the company said in a March 26 statement. These include the French Pleiades and SPOT 6 and 7 remote-sensing missions, Spain’s Ingenio Earth observation satellite, Kazakhstan’s KazEOSat-1 and the Sentinel-2 environmental monitoring mission developed under the European Union’s Copernicus program.

PeruSat-1 is also the first program developed by the “Projects Factory,” a new and more integrated organization in the space systems unit at Airbus Defense and Space.

“This new way of working brings down development and construction lead times for satellites up to 500 kg and optimizes their costs, without impacting quality in any way,” the company says.

Airbus says PeruSat-1 will be delivered within two years of contract signature, which was completed in April 2014.

“When we finish the satellite it will be a record delivery time for such a powerful satellite observation system,” said François Auque, head of space systems at Airbus. “And we are able to deliver to our customer thanks to the use of this new, optimized platform, called AstroBus-S, and applying our ‘Projects Factory’ organization. By integrating all our know-how related to platform, instrument, and ground segment in this way, we are creating a game changer with which we aim to win new markets following PeruSat-1.”

PeruSat-1 will also benefit from the experience gained with the Naomi family of optical instruments developed at Airbus Defense and Space. The technology uses silicon carbide (SiC) optics and structures, multiple-line detectors, integrated focal planes and ultra-compact optical configurations, the company says.