Eastdawn To Distribute Pleiades Data in China

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PARIS — China’s Beijing Eastdawn Information Technology will have exclusive rights to market France’s 50-centimeter-resolution Pleiades optical Earth observation imagery to key Chinese government agencies under a three-year contract with Astrium Services of France, which is responsible for Pleiades commercial sales, Astrium announced Oct. 5.

Under the agreement, which covers a three-year period with the option for a two-year extension, Eastdawn will be the exclusive distributor to five Chinese government agencies responsible for agriculture, urban and rural development, land resources and surveying, Astrium said.

Financial details were not disclosed. Eastdawn was founded in 2001 and has been a distributor of 1-meter-resolution imagery from the Ikonos satellite operated by GeoEye of Dulles, Va.; 2.5-meter imagery from India’s Cartosat-1; and 1-meter radar data provided by Italy’s Cosmo-Skymed constellation.

Two identical Pleiades satellites are scheduled for launch on Europeanized versions of Russia’s Soyuz rocket, with the first scheduled to occur in December or January. The second Pleiades would be launched in mid-2012. Both satellites carry 70-centimeter-resolution cameras for collecting imagery that, after treatment, is capable of resolving ground objects as small as 50 centimeters across.

Part of the Pleiades system’s capacity has been reserved for the French government, including the French Defense Ministry. But Astrium’s Geo-Information Services division will have global sales rights and will integrate the Pleiades product line into the company’s broader Earth observation portfolio.

Astrium Services is building the Spot 6 and Spot 7 optical Earth observation satellites, which will complement the company’s Pleiades product offer. Spot 6 and Spot 7 each will have an imager with a 2.2-meter ground resolution that, after treatment, can produce a 1.5-meter image. Color images in four spectral bands will also be produced, with a 6-meter ground resolution.

Astrium Services said the Pleiades and Spot satellites will fly at the same 694-kilometer polar low Earth orbit and will be aligned so as to overfly any area of the Earth twice a day. Spot 6 and Spot 7 are scheduled for launch in 2012 and 2014, respectively.

Astrium officials have said they are still weighing several options for the launch of Spot 6, including India’s PSLV vehicle; the Russian Rokot launcher marketed by the Russian-German Eurockot Launch Services GmbH; and the Russian-Ukrainian Dnepr, a converted missile.