Arianespace Launches UAE Satellite on Russian Soyuz Rocket

KOUROU, French Guiana (Arianespace PR) — Arianespace has successfully launched FalconEye, a very-high-performance Earth observation satellite for the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces.

With the eighth launch in 2020, Arianespace once again confirms the reliability and flexibility of the Soyuz launcher, which just realized its 24th launch from the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.

On Tuesday, December 1, at 10:33 p.m. (local time), Arianespace successfully launched the FalconEye optical observation satellite using a Soyuz rocket from the Guiana Space Center (CSG), Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana. FalconEye is a very-high-performance optical Earth observation satellite developed in a consortium led by Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space for the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces (UAEAF).

“The success of this launch is the culmination of excellent teamwork: with our Russian partners for the Soyuz launcher; with satellite manufacturers Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space, as well as with their client, the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces, for Falcon Eye; along with the French CNES space agency and the French DGA armaments procurement and technology agency. Therefore, Arianespace is pleased to have served the space ambitions of the United Arab Emirates,” declared Stéphane Israël, Chief Executive Officer of Arianespace.

The FalconEye satellite offers very-high-resolution optical observation capabilities, coupled with a high-performance ground segment to receive and process images. This was the 23rd satellite launched by Arianespace that was produced jointly by Airbus Defence and Space and Thales Alenia Space. Airbus Defence and Space, prime contractor for FalconEye, was in charge of satellite design, integration and testing, as well as supplying the platform. Thales Alenia Space, as co-prime, supplied the high-performance payload, which features a very-high-resolution optical instrument and the image transmission subsystem.

This mission also marks Arianespace’s 31st launch for a customer from the Middle East.

FalconEye was deployed by Arianespace’s third Soyuz flight in 2020; the two previous missions were carried out in February and March from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. Two more Soyuz launches are planned before year-end: Flight ST29 from the new Russian launch site in Vostochny for OneWeb; and Flight VS25 from the CSG. With more than 1,900 launches to its credit overall since entering service in 1963, the Soyuz launcher is the most flexible and most utilized in its class. As the medium-lift launcher in Arianespace’s family of launch vehicles, Soyuz perfectly complements the European launch service operator’s commercial offer, particularly in serving low and medium orbits for the benefit of Earth observation satellites and constellations.