This past Friday, a Russian Soyuz rocket launched France’s new Pleiades-1 high-resolution imaging satellite from French Guiana, along with five other satellites. The Pleiades-1 has a 70cm resolution, mulitspectral views in the visible and near-infrared bands, and a swath width of 20km , putting it on par with satellites from GeoEye and DigitalGlobe. The satellite is dual use with both civil and military users.
Plans to launch Pleiades-2 in 2012 will provide twin satellites operating in a phased orbit that is separated by 180 degrees, which will provide daily revisits. This ability to revisit anywhere on the globe on a daily basis is being touted for rescue and crisis management applications.
The Pleiades satellites were assembled by Astrium, with instruments supplied by Thales Alenia Space for the French space agency (Cnes). The program has also received funding from other European countries who have bought access to the imagery, including Austria, Belgium, Spain and Sweden. The imagery will be sold by Astrium Geo-information Services.