Status Report

France in Space #262

By SpaceRef Editor
May 31, 2004
Filed under , ,


Australian telecommunications carrier Optus has awarded two launch contracts
to Arianespace. After competitive bidding from all launch services
providers, Optus chose a European Ariane 5 as the primary vehicle with the
Sea Launch Zenit-3SL as the backup to deliver the communications satellite
Optus D1 into orbit in 2005. The Optus D1 launch contract marked the first
time the Launch Services Alliance mission assurance option was incorporated
into a contract at signing. The second Australian communication satellite
Optus D2 will be launched on the Russian rocket Soyuz from Kourou space
centre in French Guiana in 2007. The weight of each satellite is 2,500
kilograms. The satellites will mediate television and Internet
communications of Australia and New Zealand for 15 years. The first Soyouz-2
launch from Kourou, French Guiana, is scheduled for December 2006. ESA
Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain and the Director General of the
Federal Space Agency (Russia), Anatoli Perminov, declared themselves very
satisfied with the contract, which showed that ESA Member States had been
right to decide to integrate Soyuz into the family of European launchers
operated by Arianespace from the Guiana Space Centre. [ESA 05/12/2004,
Arianespace 05/13/2004, Launch Services Alliance 05/19/2004]


NATO designated a consortium formed by the UK, France and Italy to supply
super high-frequency (SHF) and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) services for 15
years beginning next year declining a rival offer by the US. The price for
the so-called NATO Satcom Post-2000 requirement should be around 457 MEuros.
European Industry officials say the American SHF/UHF capacity offered did
not fully meet signal security and nuclear hardening requirements, because
the US does not rely on for its highly secure transmission needs, while
Europe does. NATO’s preference for service capacity, rather than new
spacecraft, underscores a growing trend toward reliance on service
agreements, particularly in Europe, to lessen pressure on procurement
budgets, increase efficiency and reduce overall costs. The three countries
will coordinate service supply through a joint program office. The three
winning bidders will begin by establishing a single NATO Mission Access
Center, which will be the point of contact for routing NATO satellite
communications needs to one or more of the three satellite systems deployed.
The British portion of services will be provided by Paradigm, the EADS
affiliate that is running the two Skynet 5 satellites (2006 & 2007) and from
existing Skynet 4 satellites. The French and Italian portions will be
supplied directly by the two country’s milsatcom operating units, two
Syracuse 3 satellites (2005 – Alcatel Space) and Sicral 1 (that does not
fulfill hardening requirements) and Sicral 1b still to be procured (Alenia
Spazio). NATO’s selection of a European team to provide a major portion of
future satellite telecommunications capacity shows the increasing maturity
of Europe’s satellite industry, and the Alliance’s desire to increasingly
rely on supply from both sides of the Atlantic. The EHF (extremely high
frequency) portion of NATO Satcom Post-2000 requirement, which is widely
used for submarine communications, valued at 191 MEuros should be awarded in
2005. While the French government is bidding, the US offer, to include the
AEHF satellites under construction at Lockheed Martin is expected to win,
given its lead in EHF satellite technology. [Aviation Week & Space
Technology, Space News 05/10/2004]


Arianespace signed a contract at the Berlin Air Show to launch a promising
new spacecraft: Orbital Recovery Ltd.’s CX OLEV (ConeXpress Orbital Life
Extension Vehicle), which will be used as a space tug. The contract covers
the first launch of a CX OLEV(tm) in 2007, followed by four other missions
beginning in 2008. The order also includes provisions for options on
follow-on missions in subsequent years. These launch services will be
provided by Ariane 5 on flights performed from the Spaceport in French
Guiana. The ConeXpress Orbital Life Extension Vehicle will be carried as a
secondary payload on Ariane 5, and will have a mass at liftoff of
approximately 1,200-1,400 kg. Operating as an orbital “tugboat,” the CX OLEV
is being developed by European industry to extend the lifetime of in-orbit
telecommunications satellites by 10 years or more. It also is capable of
rescuing satellites that have been placed in incorrect orbits. Taking an
original approach to spacecraft design, Orbital Recovery Ltd. has based its
CX OLEV on the payload adapter that is used on every Ariane 5 mission. This
allows flight-proven hardware to serve as the CX OLEV structure, and opens
regular launch opportunities for the space tug on Ariane 5. The CX OLEV is
shaped like a truncated cone, and it will continue to serve as a payload
adapter for Ariane 5 missions – with the launcher’s primary satellite
payload mounted atop it. After the primary payload has been released, the CX
OLEV will be deployed from the launcher to begin its own mission as an
independent space tug. [Arianespace 05/14/2004]


The Snecma propulsion group (French Propulsion Company) will be privatized
by the end of June. An Initial Public Offering (IPO) is being prepared for
late June. This will cover 100,000 shares or 25% of the state-owned
company’s capital. The 25% stake is valued at 1,6-2 billion Euros. An
independent investment bank assessed Snecma to be valued 5 to 6 BEuros, a
value 0.9 time its 2003 sales figure. Snecma has resisted the aerospace
crisis and has increased its earnings by 71.7% to 182 MEuros in 2003. About
10% of the shares will be reserved for employees, while offers by others
companies will not be considered at this stage. General Electrics is
interested in acquiring a 10% stake in Snecma to strengthen ties established
in the 1970s. General Electric and Snecma are equal partners in CFM
International, which develops and produces turbofans. Snecma also
participates in GE’s CF6 and GE90 programs and is expected to play a
significant role in the GenX engine developed for Boeing’s newly launched
7E7 long-range twinjet. After four years of negotiation, Snecma was granted
the right by the government to take the operational control of the new
European solid propulsion consortium dubbed Herakles, created in partnership
with SNPE (French National Powders & Explosives Company) [La Tribune
04/28-05/27/2004, Aviation Week & Space Technology 05/10/2004]


Launched in October 1997, the ESA/NASA Cassini-Huygens mission is currently
heading for Saturn. While European Space Agency’s Huygens probe will be the
first ever to land on the surface of a moon in the outer Solar System,
NASA’s Cassini orbiter will continue to explore Saturn and its rings. After
an almost seven-year journey and four gravity-assist swing-by maneuvers the
spacecraft will be inserted into its orbit around Saturn on 30 June and
reach its closest approach to the planet. The Huygens probe will be detached
from its mother ship on December 25th and land on Titan in January next
year. On June 3rd, a press conference will take place at NASA Headquarters,
Washington, with ESA participation, to present the mission and outline
milestones and upcoming media activities. The ESA TV service will also
broadcast the press conference via Eutelsat W1. Further information
concerning the retransmission schedule can be found on [ESA 05/26/2004]

** 6: IN BRIEF

The 3rd in-flight commissioning period of the Philae lander (France in Space
#257 Article 5) was successful. The operations have been shared between the
Kˆln DLR center (tests of the subsystems) and the Toulouse CNES center
(tests of the instruments). After the basic tests of each instrument
performed during the previous period (April 04), the new tests were devoted
to combined operations between instruments. Results have shown an excellent
compatibility between the experiments, as requested for the on-comet
operations. Among the returned data, the images of the CIVA experiment
micro-cameras were the most spectacular. The orbiter is now further than 36
millions km from Earth. [CNES 05/25/2004]

The European comet seeker, Rosetta, has started its scientific activities.
It has taken photographs of the LINEAR comet. It was a perfect opportunity
to test all instruments onboard. Rosetta began its 10-year trip to
Churyumov-Gerasimenko comet on March 2nd, 2004. [AFP 05/26/2004]
Alcatel Space teams started installation of antennas for 47 weather data
receiving stations in Africa. The Puma project was launched in 1996 by
Eumetsat, the European meteorological satellite organization, and the
European Commission. Within a year, 45 African countries will have
integrated receiving stations, giving them access to the weather data
provided by MSG satellites built by Alcatel Space as prime contractor.
[Alcatel 05/13/2004]

Germany is pushing to have its Phoenix experimental reusable launch vehicle
(France In Space #259 Article 6) integrated into the European Space Agency’s
Future Flight Preparatory Program (FLPP). Among the ideas proposed is to
drop the vehicle from a stratospheric balloon or from a supersonic MIG-31 so
that it can explore the transonic speed range. [Aviation Week & Space
Technology 05/24/2004]

Inctus Geomatics, a private company providing geomatic services and software
to support industry specific solutions, recently signed a contract with Spot
Image for the acquisition of a receiving station Spot. This station, located
in Lethbridge, Alberta, will be able to receive data from Spot 2, 4 and 5
satellites and will cover most of the US and Canada. [Spot Image 04/26/2004]
Michel Eymar has been nominated CNES Director of Launchers. [CNES

Marc Pircher joins Alcatel’s Space General Management team as senior Vice
President, Chief Technical Officer (CTO) on July 1, 2004. He will be in
charge of the direction and the implementation of the Company’s technical
policy. He will take over from Michel Courtois who will join the European
Space Agency (ESA). Marc Pircher is a graduate of Master of Science at
Stanford University and of France’s top aeronautical engineering school
SUPAERO in Toulouse, France. [Alcatel 05/26/2004]

[From AFP, Air & Cosmos, Alcatel, Arianespace, Aviation Week & Space
Technology, Cercle Finance, CNES, EADS Astrium, EADS Space, ESA, Le Figaro,
Launch Services Alliance, La Lettre de l’Expansion, NASA, Reuters, Space
News,, La Tribune]

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: Vincent Sabathier, Thibaut Girard, Valery Tessier-Leon

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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

SpaceRef staff editor.