Thales Alenia Space has handed over management of the ground network for Italy’s Cosmo-Skymed radar Earth observation satellites to the Italian Defense Ministry, an event that marks the beginning of full operational use of the system by its principal customer, the Italian Defense Ministry and ground-network provider Telespazio of Rome announced.

Cosmo-Skymed is a dual-use constellation of satellites, with a portion of its data available for civil and commercial use through Italy’s e-Geos company. But Italy’s defense forces have rights to a majority of the data.

Three Cosmo-Skymed satellites were launched between July 2007 and October 2008, with the fourth and final satellite scheduled for launch aboard a Boeing Delta 2 rocket in 2010. For the past year, Thales Alenia Space, which built the satellites, and its industrial partners have been testing Cosmo-Skymed performance.