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The Capacité de Renseignement Electromagnétique Spatiale (CERES) satellites, designed and built by Airbus and Thales for the French procurement agency the DGA, have been successfully launched aboard a VEGA launch vehicle from the European Spaceport in French Guiana, Airbus writes in a press release.

CERES was developed to detect and locate electromagnetic signals from radio communication systems and radar installations in areas that cannot be covered by ground sensors. From its low Earth orbit, CERES is not subject to airspace overflight restrictions and can be used in all weather conditions, according to Airbus. The system is to provide detailed information to support the military operations of the French Armed Forces, improving situational awareness in the theatre of operations.

The system comprises the space segment, which consists of a swarm of three identical satellites carrying the SIGINT payload, as well as the user and ground control segments.

Airbus and Thales are co-contractors for the entire end-to-end system. Airbus is responsible for the system integration and the space segment with the three satellites. Thales is responsible for the entire mission chain and its performance, from the on-board payload to the ground segment for the users. Thales Alenia Space supplies the satellite platforms. The French space agency CNES, which is a partner of the DGA, procured the launch services and the ground control segment.

CERES is to succeed the predecessor satellites ESSAIM and ELISA, which were launched in 2004 and 2011 respectively.