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Italian radar satellite, European exoplanet telescope to launch on Soyuz next year
07 April 2017
The Italian government has decided to launch two next-generation radar reconnaissance satellites on Soyuz and Vega rockets from French Guiana, and a European Space Agency telescope to study the structures of planets around other stars will likely ride to orbit as a co-passenger on one of the missions.
The Italian Space Agency, or ASI, considered launching the first of the two second-generation COSMO-SkyMed surveillance satellites on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, but officials ultimately elected to book the launch on a Europeanised version of Russia's Soyuz rocket next year, ASI announced this week.
The second of the new COSMO-SkyMed satellites will launch on a Vega-C rocket from the Guiana Space Center in South America in 2020. The upgraded Vega-C version of the Italian-led rocket, set to debut in 2019, will have sufficient lift capacity to deliver the COSMO-SkyMed craft to orbit.
Image credit: Thales Alenia Space - Artist's concept of COSMO-SkyMed