Happy Birthday COSMO-SkyMed #10: Italy celebrates the first 10 years of the record-breaking satellite constellation

Rome  07 December 2017 10:54

The present and the future of the COSMO-SkyMed satellite system, which over the ten years since the first satellite was launched, has changed the way the Earth is observed, ensuring essential information for our security and for understanding our Planet. This was discussed at MAXXI in Rome by the Italian Minister of Education, University, and Research, Valeria Fedeli, the Secretary General of Defence and National Armaments Director, Lt. Gen. Carlo Magrassi, the President of the Italian Space Agency, Roberto Battiston, and Leonardo’s CEO, Alessandro Profumo, during the “Happy Birthday COSMO-SkyMed #10” event. 

The event celebrated the successes of the most demanding undertaking by Italy in the Earth Observation field, and provided the occasion for spotlighting how a great collaboration between public bodies, institutions, research, university, and industry, has been able to build unparalleled satellite clusters, ensuring Italy a leading position in the sector at an international level. This event was not only a time for remembering the results attained, but was, above all, an occasion for looking at the immediate future, when the COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation (CSG) will be launched. This new constellation will be ever more aligned with needs related to security and monitoring the health of our planet. 

COSMO-SkyMed is currently the only dual-use Earth observation constellation worldwide. Over its first ten years in operation, it has snapped more than 1 million radar scenes all over the world, monitoring the Earth 24 hours a day, under all weather and visibility conditions. It has contributed to national security, supported people struck by natural disasters like the earthquakes in Aquila in 2009 and Amatrice in 2016, the Nargis cyclone in Burma in 2008 or hurricane Harvey this year. It has been involved in monitoring deforestation in Amazonia, and providing data and tools for sustainable farming, checking UNESCO sites and monitoring shrinking of the ice caps in the polar regions, through to monitoring oil spillage in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded in 2010.

Founded by the Italian Space Agency, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Education, University and Research, COSMO-SkyMed system is, in fact, the result and expression of the finest skills in the Italian space industry, with Leonardo and its joint ventures, Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio, assisted by a significant number of Small and Medium Enterprises. More specifically, Thales Alenia Space (Thales 67%, Leonardo 33%) is the prime contractor, responsible for the entire system, while Telespazio (Leonardo 67%, Thales 33%) developed the ground segment and hosts the Constellation Control Centre at the Fucino Space Centre. COSMO-SkyMed’s data is marketed throughout the world by e-GEOS, a joint venture between Telespazio(80%) and ASI (20%).

As from 2018, the second generation of the system, also developed by Leonardo and its joint ventures, will gradually replace the system currently in operation thus improving the efficiency and capacity in sectors that are of paramount importance for security and for protecting our Planet, such as territory observation and sustainable management of its resources, security, and the management of natural events and emergencies, as well as combating the effects of climate change.

ASI President, Roberto Battiston, underlined that COSMO-SkyMed “is an asset of paramount relevance not only for the Italian space system but for the entire Country in many different ways: in fact, it is a programme that keeps Italy ahead on the technology frontier and allows us to play a key role at international level on the issues of security and the management of emergencies. For many years – he added – the constellation has been massively used for an in-depth analysis of the most important “climatisers” of the Earth, such as the Polar regions, areas which have a crucial impact on the climate, the weather, and the functioning of the entire ecosystem of the Earth. For these reasons, as from today COSMO-SkyMed will start to twit on the issues of the environment and climate change and to constantly update the public on such important issues”, concluded Battiston.

“COSMO-SkyMed is the flagship of Italian space technology in the world, and an essential component for its development. The information that comes from our system, the only one of its kind, proves to be of the utmost importance every day, for observing and understanding the Planet, and in order to guarantee our security. COSMO-SkyMed has also allowed industry in our Country to acquire leading skills in terms of both Earth monitoring radar technology, and in geo-information services and applications. Over the years we have signed agreements for use of the data from this constellation in Europe, Asia, South America, USA and Canada, carving out a leading role in this market worldwide” – said Alessandro Profumo, Leonardo’s CEO. “Now, 10 years after the first satellite was launched, COSMO-SkyMed is a strategic infrastructure for Italy. Keeping it at the forefront of technology with the launching of second generation satellites that allow the entire constellation to be upgraded, and developing further generations of the system, is essential in order to maintain our leadership in an ever-evolving market”