COSMO-SkyMed, one of the most innovative Earth Observation programmes, has been financed by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of Education, University, and Scientific Research.
The system was set up gradually: the first satellite was launched in June 2007, the second one in December 2007, the third one in October 2008, and the fourth one in November 2010. On 18th December 2019 the first satellite of the COSMO SkyMed Second-Generation programme was launched.
The First-Generation COSMO-SkyMed constellation, set up by Thales Alenia Space, is made up of four identical SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellites, that watch the Earth day and night under any weather conditions, using X-band high resolution radars.
Telespazio set up the entire ground segment of the system. The Fucino Space Centre hosts the Constellation Control Centre and managed the satellite acquisition phases after the launch and subsequent orbit insertion of the satellites themselves. Today, the Centre engages in command and control activities, and plans image acquisition requests.
After the launch of the first satellite in 2019, the Second-Generation COSMO SkyMed programme (CSG) plans to launch a second satellite in 2020. The CSG will ensure further improved performance in terms of technology, services, and the system's service life. In fact, the two new satellites in the constellation represent the pinnacle of radar observation from space in terms of precision, characteristics, and image quality.
The Second-Generation COSMO SkyMed is a satellite system designed to guarantee operational continuity of the radar observation services, provided by the four first-generation satellites. Thales Alenia Space is responsible for the entire CSG programme, including building two satellites, while Telespazio is responsible for designing and developing the ground segment, and for providing Integrated Logistics and Operations services. The Company is also responsible for the LEOP (Launch and Early Orbit Phases), IOT (In Orbit Tests) and Operational Approval phases of the satellite.
Leonardo contributes to the programme by supplying the Altitude Sensors (A-STR) for orienting the satellite, solar panels (PVA), and sophisticated units that process and distribute electricity throughout the satellite, maximising its energy efficiency.
e-GEOS (a Telespazio / ASI company), markets the COSMO SkyMed radar data throughout the world. From the Matera Space Centre, e-GEOS acquires, processes, and distributes COSMO-SkyMed satellite data for civil applications.
COSMO SkyMed was developed for dual use, that is, as a programme able to satisfy both civil (environmental monitoring, civil defence, Oil & Gas) and military needs. Its general characteristics allow interoperability with other systems and use in the context of international agreements. The constellation makes it possible to acquire information on the entire Earth surface, covering on average the same area every 12 hours, and each satellite is able to generate 1800 images per day.