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30th anniversary of Spot-1 launch

On February 22, 1986, exactly 30 years ago, France’s first civilian optical Earth observation satellite, Spot-1, financed by the French space agency CNES, was launched by an Ariane 1 rocket. The satellite had a design life of three years, but it remained operational in orbit for 17 years, finally being deorbited in November 2003 and burning up during reentry. Spot 1 sent nearly 2.7 million high-quality images down to Earth, for the benefit of scientists, government agencies, regional authorities and many other stakeholders.


Thales Alenia Space’s contribution to Spot-1

Thales Alenia Space supplied a number of major components for Spot-1: telemetry payload, solar array, reaction wheels, structural and thermal control parts for the platform, and electronics units for the instruments – a key to the satellite’s performance. The French-Italian company later provided the Vegetation 1 and 2 payloads for Spot-4 and Spot-5, respectively. These supplementary payloads were designed to continuously monitor the state of the vegetal cover for the entire planet, including both natural and cultivated vegetation.


Paving the way for high and very-high resolution

While Spot-1 impressed everybody with its extraordinary lifespan, it also paved the way for the advent of Earth observation satellites with high-resolution (HR) or very-high-resolution (VHR) optical payloads, for civilian, military or dual applications. Through this program Thales Alenia Space became one of the world’s leading experts in spaceborne observation, providing the HR and VHR optical instruments for France’s intelligence satellites, including the Helios, Pleiades and CSO families.


Export markets

In the international market, Thales Alenia Space provided the Gokturk high-resolution optical observation system for the Turkish Ministry of Defense. In 2014 Thales Alenia Space was chosen to produce the two optical payloads in the Falcon Eye high-resolution observation system for the United Arab Emirates.
French industry, also supported by Telespazio and Thales (Services), is ideally positioned to provide HR and VHR optical observation systems in export markets, within the scope of a proven and cost-competitive offering.
These systems enable countries to protect their sovereignty, monitor borders and high-value sites, support decision-making and foreign operations, etc. At the same time, they contribute to France’s balance of trade, and bolster employment in the country. For example, when Thales Alenia Space wins a satellite export contract, 80% of the total amount is reinjected into the French economy.