France in Space #307

Status Report From: Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES)
Posted: Wednesday, September 28, 2005


In the presence of the French Minister for Foreign Trade Christine Lagarde, Arianespace signed September 7 a contract with the satellite operator Shin Satellite to launch THAICOM 5 onboard an Ariane 5 in 2006. The four previous satellites of the THAICOM series were also launched by Arianespace, including the last one August 11 (cf. France in Space No 304 article 1). THAICOM 5 is built by Alcatel Alenia Space and will provide telecommunications and television services throughout the Asia-Pacific region. For Arianespace's CEO Jean-Yves Le Gall, this latest contract confirms that "2005 is a year of routine, two years after the failure of the Ariane 5 ECA flight in November 2002, and a return to what was experienced during the Ariane 4 times". The current backlog of the company includes about 40 satellites to be launched onboard Ariane, in addition to 5 others to be launched onboard the Soyuz vehicle operated by the Arianespace subsidiary Starsem. With 8 launches expected for 2005 (5 with Ariane and 3 with Soyuz), Arianespace should reach an annual turnover of nearly 1 billion euros and an income of some millions euros this year. [La Tribune 09/08/2005, Les Echos 09/08/2005]


The Anik F1R satellite was successfully launched by an ILS Proton launch vehicle September 9 for the operator Telesat. EADS Astrium was prime contractor for this satellite and provided the platform, a Eurostar E3000 model, and both payloads: one includes 56 transponders in C- and Ku-bands to provide communications services throughout Canada and the United States, the other is a navigation payload designed to provide enhanced precision guidance for air traffic management in North America. EADS Astrium is also responsible for developing and manufacturing Telesat's Anik F3 satellite whose launch is scheduled in 2006. [EADS Astrium 09/09/2005]


The Eutelsat W1 telecommunications satellite suffered in August a loss of 50 percent of its power after one of its solar panel failed. Eutelsat and the W1 manufacturer, EADS Astrium, are investigating the cause of the problem and are confident that it would not affect other Astrium-built satellites. However, the operator could rely on three new satellites in the upcoming year to compensate for the W1 partial loss: two Hot Bird television-broadcast satellites are scheduled for launch by early 2006 and a request for bids was recently issued for a W7 satellite. Moreover, in order to strengthen its position in the telecommunications services market, the European operator plans to reinforce its fleet with two more W-series spacecrafts, for which requests for proposal will be issued in the next months. [Space News 09/12/2005]


India and the European Union signed September 7 an agreement confirming India's participation in Europe's Galileo satellite navigation project. The other non-European contributors to Galileo are China, Israel and Ukraine. The four are engaged to make cash investment in the project in return for a future role in the Galileo system construction, but will not access to the security-related signal PRS (Public Related Service) restricted to EU nations. The 30-satellite constellation will enable the development of new civil services in areas such as transport, environment, agriculture and fisheries and is expected to be operational around the end of the decade. In the shorter-term, Europe and India will also cooperate in the development of EGNOS (European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Service), a system aimed at improving the accuracy and reliability of the Global Positioning System signal. [AFP 09/07/2005, Space News 09/12/2005]


The European GMOSS (Global MOnitoring for Security and Stability) project has recently made progress on the domain of satellite imagery analysis which could enable to detect nuclear activity from space. GMOSS aims at developing new technologies to support security aspects of the Global Monitoring Environment and Security (GMES), a joint initiative by ESA and the European Commission. The GMOSS research project deals with various applications such as early warning, infrastructure monitoring, border surveillance, and damage assessment. Recent progress on imagery processing analysis allowed to improve image quality obtained from commercial satellites. Consequently, GMOSS researchers consider that the new techniques could enable nuclear- and chemical-processing activity to be detected by civil systems such as ESA's ERS-1 and ERS-2 observation satellites. For instance, a possible application could be to detect the characteristics of heat plumes from nuclear reactor coolant system. [Flight International 09/13/2005]


The ESA center in Germany completed this past summer a reconfiguration of the ESA-NASA Cluster space weather satellite constellation. In orbit since 2000 the Cluster mission aims at studying small-scale structures of the magnetosphere and its environment in three dimensions. The constellation includes four identical spacecrafts that flied in a tetrahedral configuration until now. The recent operations allowed expanding the separation between three of the satellites to 10 000 kilometers (twice the previous maximum distance) and repositioning the fourth at just 1000 kilometers from the third satellite. With this new asymmetric configuration, scientists should be able to detect small-scale kinetic processes taking place in the plasma filed surrounding the Earth and to establish the link between these small structures and the large-scale morphology of the magnetosphere. [Aviation Week 09/05/2005]

** 7: IN BRIEF

The European Space Agency has started a technical investigation into the Planetary Fourier Spectrometer (PFS) on board the Mars Express satellite, after a problem probably due to vibrations effects developed in the instrument a few months ago. PFS aims at analyzing the chemical composition of Mars surface and the gases making up its thin atmosphere, its ice and dust. [ESA 09/13/2005]

France In Space is a weekly synthesis of French space activities based on French press. Its content does not reflect an official position of the French Government or CNES. It is provided by the CNES office and the Office of Science and Technology of the French Embassy in Washington D.C Editors: Jean-Jacques Tortora, Clémence Le Fèvre, Valéry Tessier-Lèon

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About CNES

"CNES develops and leads national space programmes. The main thrust of its action is to serve France's ambition to sustain a strong space capability and contribute to scientific discovery at the highest levels. CNES is committed to fostering innovative space technologies that meet the current and future needs of society. Most programmes are pursued in cooperation with international partners. CNES also plays a central role in programmes initiated by ESA, the European Space Agency, to which it is a major contributor. It is thus a driving force behind ESA programmes and activities".

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