COSMO-SkyMed is one of the most innovative Earth observation programmes and is funded by the Italian Space Agency (ASI), the Italian Ministry of Defence and the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research.

The COSMO-SkyMed constellation comprises four identical SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) satellites that “watch” the Earth day and night, under any atmospheric conditions, thanks to the X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar. The system was implemented in stages: the first satellite was launched in June 2007, the second in December 2007, the third in October 2008 and the fourth in November 2010.

The COSMO-SkyMed programme is moving forward with the development of two second generation satellites with improved performance that provide new application possibilities, with particular reference to risk management and damage assessment with regard to natural and anthropic disasters.

COSMO-SkyMed was conceived as a dual-use programme capable of meeting civil needs (environmental monitoring, civil protection, oil & gas) as well as military ones. The general features enable interoperability with other systems and the use in the context of international agreements. In particular, COSMO-SkyMed is able to meet the stringent operating requirements of Copernicus, the European programme for Earth observation.

The constellation makes it possible to acquire information on the entire surface of the globe and updates the images every 12 hours, on average. Each satellite has the capacity to generate 450 images per day.

Leonardo participates in the programme through its joint ventures Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio and through its Airborne & Space Systems Division.


Thales Alenia Space

The COSMO-SkyMed space constellation has been developed by Thales Alenia Space Italia with the important role of programme prime contractor, responsible for the development and construction of the entire COSMO-SkyMed system, including the ground and space segment.

As leading role, Thales Alenia Space Italia is the principal creator of the high resolution X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar, technological heart of the COSMO-SkyMed system and a “state-of-the-art” instrument, the result of the long experience gained by Thales Alenia Space Italia during more than of 25 years of space radar activities for Earth observation and for the exploration of the Solar System.

Moreover, every COSMO-SkyMed satellite is based on the PRIMA platform of Thales Alenia Space, which provides all services (power, propulsion, thermal control, telemetry and remote controls, attitude control) for orbital life and payload operations.

European leader for satellite systems and at the forefront of orbital infrastructures, Thales Alenia Space, today, is a worldwide reference in radar and optical Earth observation, with a prominent position in major European programmes such as GMES and MTG.


Telespazio has realized the entire ground segment of the system. The Fucino Space Centre houses the control centre for the constellation, and managed the phases of acquisition of satellites after launch and the subsequent putting into orbit. Today, the Centre carries out command and control activities and the scheduling of requests for the acquisition of images.

The Matera Space Centre, managed by e-GEOS (a Telespazio/ASI company), is responsible for the acquisition, processing and distribution of satellite data for civil applications. Through e-GEOS, Telespazio is active in all areas relating to the Earth observation market: from acquiring and processing satellite data to developing and selling software and products. Specifically, e-GEOS is a leading international operator with an integrated range of application solutions and value-added services, based on radar and very high-resolution optical data. e-GEOS markets COSMO-SkyMed data worldwide.

Airborne & Space Systems Division

Leonardo’s Airborne & Space Systems Division is participating in the COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation programme (CSG), which produces state-of-the-art equipment for the regulation and distribution of satellites’ electrical power.  The PCDU is, in fact, the primary unit that powers all the subsystems on board. It also produces the power units for Synthetic Aperture (SAR) radar antenna, called SPDU (SAR Power Distribution Unit), and for the individual active elements of the radar, called TPSU (Tile Power Supply Unit).

It also provides the ‘Control Momentum Gyro – CMG’ control board, which commands its gyroscopes to manoeuvre the satellite easily and quickly. COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation is powered by Finmeccanica’s solar panels (Photo Voltaic Assembly – PVA) and its position in space is determined by the A-STR attitude sensors.