Poland orders two Pléiades Neo spy satellites from Airbus

Airbus Defence & Space

The Polish Ministry of Defense ordered two Pléiades Neo observation satellites from Airbus Defense & Space, a contract worth a total of €575 million ($613 million).

The acquisition was confirmed during a visit of Sébastien Lecornu, the French Minister for the Armed Forces, to Warsaw, Poland.

“The investment in modern technologies means a significant increase in the capabilities of the Polish Armed Forces in the key area of reconnaissance data acquisition,” said Mariusz Błaszczak, the Polish Minister of Defense. “They are important not only for military reasons but also in the field of early natural disaster warning, which is a tremendously vital capability for fire brigades.”

“This contract is proof of the deep ties that unite France and Poland in the field of defense,” Lecornu commented.

In July 2021, the two countries signed a declaration of intent to formalize “the bilateral relationship between France and Poland in the space field.”

The contract includes two satellites and a ground control station. In addition, Poland will also have access to the satellite imagery provided by the existing French Pléiades constellation. The launch of the two Polish satellites should take place by 2027.

Quick rebound for the Vega C launcher

The Polish order comes as a breath of fresh air following the failure of the Arianespace Vega C launcher on December 20, 2022. The rocket was carrying the last two satellites of the constellation, Pléiades Neo 5 and 6.

“The lift-off, the mission and the separation of the first stage (P120C) were nominal,” the launch company Arianespace explained. “Following the nominal ignition of the second stage’s (Zefiro 40) engine around 144 seconds after lift-off, a decrease in the pressure was observed leading to the premature end of the mission.”

The 35-meter-tall Vega C is an improved version of the Vega rocket, manufactured by the Italian company Avio and part of the Arianespace catalog. Smaller than the Ariane rocket family, its new engine and larger fairing allow the Vega C to carry a 2.2-ton payload, an 800-kilogram improvement compared to the original launcher.

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