China To Receive Imagery from Newest Spot Satellites

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PARIS — China’s Center for Earth Observation and Digital Earth (CEODE) will operate an Earth station to receive medium-resolution optical imagery from the Spot 6 and Spot 7 satellites as part of a series of agreements signed with Astrium Geo-Information Services that Astrium announced Oct. 31.

Under the agreements, whose financial terms were not disclosed, CEODE and Beijing Spot Image, a unit of Astrium Geo-Information, will continue a relationship that began in 1998 and has continued through successive generations of Spot Earth observation satellites.

The new contracts will permit Beijing Spot Image to continue in the role of exclusive marketing agent in China for all Spot-derived data.

Spot 6 and Spot 7 are identical satellites capable of taking images with a 1.5-meter ground resolution — sharp enough to detect objects of that size and larger — and a swath of 60 square kilometers. Spot 6 has been in orbit since September; Spot 7 is scheduled for launch in mid-2013.

Astrium said that the new agreements permit CEODE, which was formed in 2007 and is a part of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, “to pursue its high-resolution activities while also benefiting from the increased acquisition, daily revisit and quick-response tasking” of the Spot 6 and Spot 7 satellites once they are both operational in orbit.

CEODE has a similar role in China for the Spot 5 satellite, which was launched in 2002 and is expected to be retired in 2015. Operating in a higher orbit, Spot 5 takes images with a maximum resolution of 2.5 meters, also with a 60-square-kilometer swath.

Astrium Services is financing the construction and launch of Spot 6 and Spot 7 satellites on its own. Previous generations of Spot spacecraft have been paid for mainly by the French space agency, CNES.