The French space agency CNES handed over responsibility for commercial operation of SPOT 5 to SPOT IMAGE, which will now be distributing imagery acquired by the new satellite worldwide. After being placed in orbit by an Ariane 4 launcher on 4 May 2002 from the Guiana Space Centre, Europe's spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, SPOT 5 has successfully completed two months of in-orbit tests and is now fully operational. Since being placed in orbit, SPOT 5 has already acquired 23, 000 scenes.

Tests performed during in-orbit checkout have shown that:

  • The satellite, ground telemetry and command systems, and passenger instruments are functioning perfectly and system availability is excellent.
  • Geometric and radiometric quality of images from the two HRG (high-resolution geometric) instruments and the HRS (high-resolution stereoscopic) instrument is excellent, exceeding specifications.

In-orbit checkout of the VEGETATION instrument will be completed in November 2002. Performance so far is excellent.

SPOT 5 offers unrivaled acquisition capability with its HRG instruments, offering a wide imaging swath of 60 km x 60 km or 60 km x 120 km at a resolution of 2.5 meters, and its HRS instrument, which supports operational production of high-accuracy digital elevation models (DEMs).

The other satellites in the SPOT constellation - SPOT 1, SPOT 2 and SPOT 4 - are still functioning, with SPOT 1 as an on-orbit spare ready to resume operation if necessary.