The second satellite in Italy’s COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation Earth Observation programme, funded by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) with funds allocated by the Ministry of University and Research and the Ministry of Defence, took off correctly from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The COSMO-SkyMed constellation is the result and expression of the top talents in the Italian space industry with Leonardo and its joint ventures Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio and with contributions made by a significant number of SMEs

01 February 2022

The second COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation satellite (CSG) funded by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) with funds allocated by the Ministry of University and Research and the Ministry of Defence, was launched successfully today by a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 00:11 a.m. CET from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

This launch signs a new milestone for Italy in the field of Earth Observation. With the deployment of the second CSG satellite, the sixth in orbit, and the evolution of the existing ground infrastructure, CSG will provide an improved product quality to satisfy the user requirements in line with the objectives set by the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Ministry of Defense, which have promoted, funded and managed the entire program. This result also confirms the exceptional skills of the Italian industry (Leonardo and its joint ventures Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio, and several SMEs) which built the system.

CSG's primary objective is to provide dual users, civil and military, with Earth Observation services through a wide portfolio of products, obtained in the various operative modes of the SAR sensor (Synthetic Aperture Radar), both in narrow field with ultrafine resolution and wide field. All these capabilities will significantly amplify the CSG’s potential applications for disaster risk prevention and management, climate change, infrastructure and cultural heritage monitoring and management of natural resources

CSG will fulfil new and more demanding requirements in terms of response time, new products, security rules, data confidentiality, quality and number of images per orbit and per day. Our planet will therefore be able to count on an extraordinary monitoring tool, a unique updated system capable of providing accurate information.

“The launch of the second satellite of the new generation COSMO-SkyMed represents a further important step - said Giorgio Saccoccia, president of the Italian Space Agency - to ensure the continuity and consolidation of an extraordinary infrastructure, an Italian technological excellence recognized worldwide, capable of guaranteeing the most sophisticated monitoring and observation services of our planet. Thanks to the significant investments of ASI and the Italian Defense, the second generation is in fact characterized, by new features, better performance and greater flexibility of use that enable innovative services and applications for the economic and social growth of our Country.”.

“The second generation COSMO-SkyMed satellite constellation is a crucial resource for Ministry of Defence, thanks to its all-weather Earth observation capabilities - said Lorenzo Guerini, minister of Defence. “At the strategic level, the programme will enable the Defence organisation to have a constantly updated information picture of potential risk factors. It will allow a timely assessment of the operational situation to support decision making and make the most appropriate choices. Through this programme, the national space industry confirms its leadership in the development of high technology systems, in particular radars and very high-resolution sensors. It is the result of the strong synergy that exists between academia and the industry. Such sinergy is further underpinned by the skills of our civilian and military technicians, and by the rewarding mix of experience and knowledge between Defence and the Italian Space Agency. It is an endowment we have to maintain and enhance over the years to safeguard our national technological sovereignty.

The COSMO-SkyMed programme also represents an important opportunity for more future international cooperation opportunities. 'One of the strengths of our country's space and aerospace sector is the thoroughness of its industrial and research chain - said Maria Cristina Messa, minister of University and Research - this strategic autonomy has made it possible to develop, over the years, skills and expertise of strong international competitiveness and in this context COSMO-SkyMed was conceived and implemented. Thanks to the Second Generation satellites we will have an even better quality of the data obtained and the possibility, for example, of continuing to study, with ever greater precision and punctuality, the trends of natural and anthropogenic processes that the Italian and international scientific community are monitoring since more than a decade right through this constellation. Faced with ecological transitions and climate change, acting on this front and investing in research can prove to be crucial”.

“The launch of the new satellite of the second generation of the COSMO-SkyMed constellation demonstrates all Italian ambition in the field of Earth Observation and our extraordinary expertise in radar payloads (SAR) - said Vittorio Colao, minister of Technological Innovation and Digital Transition with mandate for space affairs. “An expertise made up of great industrial capabilities (such as Leonardo and its joint ventures Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio) but also the contribution of numerous national SMEs and an extremely dynamic and competitive ecosystem of public and private entities.Thanks to the two generations of COSMO-SkyMed satellites, we are able to improve the quality of critical information and speed up data transmission. The 5 satellites in orbit, from 2008 to today have acquired 2 million images, monitoring 7 billion square kilometers, about 14 times the entire area of the planet, we are also able to develop a greater number of applications in strategic areas such as climate change , precision agriculture, control of critical infrastructures, management of emergencies (fires, earthquakes, floods), maritime safety and coastal control and thanks to Telespazio and Asi, COSMO-SkyMed data are marketed all over the world .”

“This launch represents a new success for Italy in Space and is the consequence of investments and skills resulting from the joint effort of institutions, the scientific community and industry. Leonardo is in the front row with Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio, at the helm of a vast network of small and medium-sized enterprises - said Alessandro Profumo, chief executive officer of Leonardo - the forward-looking and systemic vision that inspired COSMO-SkyMed is the same that must guide us today in addressing, as a country, the challenges of the New Space Economy and transforming them into opportunities for recovery: Leonardo is ready to do its part”.

CSG represents the state of the art of radar Earth Observation systems and, thanks to the technological innovations and new solutions introduced in the space and ground segments, it is able to guarantee significant improvements to the first generation (still in operation) in terms of performance, image quality, efficiency of services and increased operational lifetime. The high agility of the system, combined with a generational technological leap, make possible a significant expansion of possible applications; that include security and territory surveillance and the prevention and analysis of disasters due to natural or anthropogenic causes

In this program, the Italian national industry plays a crucial role, with Leonardo and its joint ventures Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio, together with a significant number of small and medium-sized enterprises. In particular, Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), is the prime contractor responsible for the entire system, while Telespazio, a joint venture between Leonardo (67%) and Thales (33%), is responsible of the ground segment and hosts the command and control center of the constellation at the Fucino Space Center. Leonardo also contributes to the program by providing the star trackers for the orientation of the satellite, photovoltaic panels (PVA) and electronic units for the management of the electrical power. COSMO-SkyMed data is marketed worldwide by e-GEOS (Telespazio 80% and ASI 20%).

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