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The Italian Defence Ministry's (MoD) OPTSAT-3000 optical reconnaissance satellite satellite launched on 2 August from the Kourou European spaceport in French Guyana. OPTSAT-3000 consists of a satellite in a sun-synchronous LEO (Low Earth Orbit) orbit and of a GroundSegment for in-orbit control and for data acquisition and processing. It will provide highresolution images of any part of the globe, providing Italy with an autonomous national capability of Earth observation from space with a high-resolution optical sensor.

The whole system is supplied by Leonardo through its joint venture Telespazio (Leonardo 67%, Thales 33%). As prime contractor, Telespazio leads an international group of companies including, among others, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), who built the satellite within an international co-operation agreement between Italy and Israel, and OHB Italia, responsible for the launch, making use of the VEGA European launcher, produced by AVIO

OPTSAT-3000 will jointly operate with the second-generation COSMO-SkyMed system of radar satellites – which has also been developed by Italian industry, with Leonardo and its joint ventures,Thales Alenia Space (Thales 67%, Leonardo 33%) and Telespazio – integrating optical and radar datato provide the Italian MoD with information characterised by extreme accuracy, resolutionand completeness and with state-of-the-art analysis and operational tools.

Onboard OPTSAT 3000 (and onboard the VENµS satellite),  two of Elbit Systems' advanced space imaging systems, JUPITER and VENUS, respectively, were launched to space as well. The JUPITER high resolution reconnaissance space camera provides spatial resolutions of 0.5m resolution (PAN) from an altitude of 600km and is Elbit Systems’ most advanced light-weighted space imaging system developed for installation on micro and mini-satellites. The JUPITER imaging system contains very high resolution panchromatic imaging and has the capability of adding a multi-spectral (MS) channel. JUPITER is designed for a range of military and civilian applications including advanced military surveillance and reconnaissance, detailed high value target investigation, definition of small and discrete objects and situational awareness. The civilian applications include homeland security missions, emergency planning and operations, environmental monitoring, and infrastructure imaging.

The super spectral VENµS, short for Vegetation and Environment Monitoring on a New Micro Satellite, imaging system was launched onboard the French-Israeli VENUS environmental satellite, a scientific observation satellite for environmental research purposes build for the Israeli Space Agency (ISA) in the Israeli Ministry of Science and its partner, the French National Center of Space Studies (CNES). VENµS was built in IAI's space division in collaboration with Elbit Systems, which developed the telescope, and Rafael, which developed the propulsion system. The satellite weighs 265kg at the time of the launch and entered a sun-synchronous orbit at the height of 720 kilometres.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) manufactured  and developed the two observation satellites OPTSAT3000 and VENµS. Following the launch, the two satellites have synced into their respective orbits around Earth and have started transmitting data. In the next few months the satellites will be subjected to a series of In Orbit Tests (IOT) to validate their condition and performance. The first image from Venµs s is expected to be received within a week time.




OPTSAT3000 is a 368kg, high resolution observation satellite which forms part of a larger range of electro optical observation satellites manufactured by IAI and operated successfully in space. The OPTSAT3000 is very agile, offering strong maneuverability and operational flexibility, among others thanks to its weight, which is significantly lower than similar satellites around the world. This low weight was achieved by means of innovative miniaturization technology developed by IAI. The Satellite's high resolution allows it to discern small details on ground, a feature that places it in the global forefront of observation satellites. The satellite was purchased by the Italian government in 2012 as part of inter-government agreement between the two countries. (Image: IAI)

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