Pleiades is an international co-operation to meet the needs of civilian and military users.
Co-operation between France and Italy on a dual system: ORFEO (Optical and Radar Federated Earth Observation)
On January 29, 2001, an agreement was signed in Turin between the French and Italian governments concerning Earth Observation co-operation.
The purpose of this Agreement was to implement co-operation for setting up an Earth observation capability using optical and radar sensors, and mainly to define the context in which the dual-purpose system (military and civilian) is to be developed and used. This memorandum of understanding defines a global co-operation scenario in the civilian and defence fields. It thereby provides for Italy to have access to the Helios 2 and SPOT 5 satellites, together with the design, development and operation of a new dual system called ORFEO, derived from the Pleiades project for the high resolution part and from Cosmo-Skymed for the X-band radar component.
It is particularly indicated that the ORFEO (dual) system to be developed must include:
an optical component composed of two satellites and the associated ground segment, developed under control of the French party,
a radar component composed of four satellites and the associated ground segment, developed under the control of the Italian party ;
The system must also ensure:
the protection of defence interests in terms of security and priority of mission requests,
that civilian or commercial users' needs are satisfied in terms of general operational capacity, quick access to data, image availability and quality and the competitiveness of the services supplied.
The memorandum of understanding was followed by a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA), for the ORFEO system definition step, between the French space agency (CNES) and the Italian space agency (ASI). The MoA was signed on June 2001, 22nd, at the Paris Air Show.
The memorandum of understanding for the realisation phase is being finalized.
The first High Resolution satellite (Pleiades-1A) was launched on December 17, 2011.
Co-operation on the Pleiades dual system
In agreement with the governmental directives and respecting the constraints of the Franco-Italian agreement, co-operations are set up with Austria, Belgium, Spain and Sweden. In return of their participation the co-operating countries will receive an access to the programmation and to the system archive equivalent to their participation of the development according to those retained on the SPOT series.
Co-operation with Austria
Austria will take part up to 1% of the cost of the whole of the program within the framework of a Memorandum of Agreement established between CNES and ASA (Austrian Space Agency).
Co-operation with Belgium
In the continuity of the co-operation between France and Belgium within the framework of the program SPOT, the conditions of the Belgian participation were defined in the 6th amendment to the Agreement between the French government and the Belgian government (Belspo). Belgium indicated that it will take part up to 4% of the cost of the program.
Co-operation with Spain
A co-operation agreement was signed between the CNES and the INTA on April 2005, 6th. Spain will take part up to 3% of the whole cost the program. Spain will have an access to the defence high priority programmation in the framework of an agreement to be established with the french defence ministery. Spain will also develop its own reception and processing means.
Co-operation with Sweden
In the continuity of the co-operation between France and Sweden within the framework of the program SPOT, the conditions of the Swedish participation were defined in a Memorandum of Agreement between CNES and the SNSB (Swedish National Space board) signed on March 2005, 16th. The participation of Sweden to the whole program will reach up to 3% of the cost of the Pléiades HR system. Moreover Sweden will ensure, through its station network, services for data reception and the satellites' telemetry and telecommand.