Status Report

France in Space #298

By SpaceRef Editor
June 17, 2005
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Jean-Yves LeGall, director of Arianespace, announced on June 14 at the Paris Air Show that the company had been selected to launch the Japanese telecommunication satellite BSAT-3a, built by Lockheed Martin. Launch of BSAT-3a is scheduled for mid-2007 onboard an Ariane 5 from Kourou, French Guiana.

Mr. LeGall specified that this will be the sixth satellite launched by an Ariane vehicle for the operator Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation (B-SAT). This new contract is the third won by Arianespace since the beginning of the year and adds to the current backlog of 31 satellites and 9 Automated Transfer Vehicles (ATVs) for ESA in the frame of the International Space Station program. Like its competitors, Arianespace is affected by the telecommunication crisis with only one launch to date in 2005. “There are only 15 to 20 satellites to be launched per year, and we hope to perform half of them”, said Mr. LeGall. Five Ariane 5 launches should take place before year end carrying a total of 9 satellites. [AFP 06/14/2005, Le Monde 06/15/2005]


The two teams in the run for the development and operation of the European satellite navigation system Galileo, iNavSat (comprising EADS, Thales and Inmarsat) and Eurely (including Alcatel, Finmeccanica, AENA and Hispasat), are now allowed to enter into partnership. This rapprochement, which EADS and Alcatel had hoped for, will put an end to the conflict between the two consortiums. “We authorized them to talk to each other”, said Hans Peter Marchlewski, spokesman for the Galileo Joint Undertaking, an organisation created by the European Commission and ESA, in charge of initiating the Request For Proposal for this industrial program. “They will now come forward with a consolidated proposal”, added Marchlewski.

Galileo is the European equivalent to the American GPS (Global Positioning System) and operations are expected to start in 2008 with 30 satellites. The project will have both military and civil applications: airline traffic, automotive navigation as well as assistance to rescue and fire fighting services. [Le Figaro 06/15/2005]


Two experimental satellites, which are being developed for the Galileo System Test Bed – Version 2GSTB-V2), are now approximately six months away from launch. This is the first step of the ‘in-orbit validation’ phase of the Galileo system that will require a constellation of four satellites. The main mission of these first Galileo satellites is intended to secure the Galileo frequency filings, validate new technologies for operational use, characterize the radiation environment of MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) and enable experimentation with live Galileo signals.

The satellites, currently known as GSTB-V2/A and GSTB-V2/B, are being built in parallel by Surrey Satellite Technology and Galileo Industries (GaIn) respectively. GaIn is a European consortium including Alcatel Space, Alenia Spazio, EADS Astrium and Galileo Sistemas y Servicios.

Much of the testing of the units and subsystems that will make up the two spacecraft has been completed. GSTB-V2/A will be transported to the European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESTEC) to undergo testing early in the summer. GSTB-V2/B, currently being assembled at Astrium in the UK, will begin its test campaign at Alenia in Rome before moving to ESTEC for final testing this fall.

The launch of the first Galileo test satellite is currently scheduled for December 2005 onboard a Soyuz vehicle from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. [ESA 06/09/2005]


Thales, part of the team iNavSat bidding for the Galileo service concession, is already a major player in Galileo Industries and obtained various contracts for the development of basic technologies. Its subsidiary Thales Navigation, created in 2000, is currently one of the main providers of receivers and GPS systems. The company’s experience in the field should put it in a good position, no matter which team is chosen as operator of Galileo.

Thales Navigation generates approximately one fourth of the 1 billion euros revenues of Thales Security division. Covering four different markets (outdoors, automotive, topography and OEM), the company claims to be the leader in mobile automotive navigational systems with 45% of market share in the United States. “Today, only 12 to 15% of all cars are manufactured with an integrated onboard GPS system”, noted Henry Gaillard, CEO of Thales Navigation based in Santa Clara, California. For the owners of the subsidiary company, the generalization of these products at the manufacturing level is likely to take years. Consequently, the company is focusing on portable and removable products for which sales should increase of 50% by 2010.

For its other main activity, GPS for leisure use, Thales Navigation claims to hold 20% of market share. The Magellan branded products generate 30% of the revenues and their sales are expected to increase of 17% over the next five years. [Les Echos 06/14/2005]


The French Defense Ministry recently concluded a contract which transfers some of its non-sensitive satcom requirements to private contractors. The additional capacity, managed by the navy under the Alta-S contract, is intended to complement data from the existing Syracuse 2 military system and Inmarsat satellite network. The agreement includes three parts: first, a fixed-telecom service in X-, Ku- and C-band to be supplied by EADS, Eutelsat and France Telecom; secondly, mobile satellite data from Iridium, Globalstar and Turaya, to be provided through France Telecom’s MSC affiliate; and finally, Ku- and C-band ground receiving stations to be leased by France Telecom.

The 2-year contract is valued at 1.5 million euros, with a two-year extension possible. [Air & Cosmos 06/10/2005, Aviation Week 06/13/2005]


Alcatel announced at the Paris Air Show that it had been chosen as coordinator of the Healthware research & development project co-funded by the European Commission. Grouping 19 partners in a European consortium, the project is designed to foster the development of satellite-based telemedicine solutions, in particular those using DVB-RCS technologies (Digital Video Broadcasting – Return Channel by Satellite).

The use of these technologies guarantees broadband transmission capacity from any medical facility (hospital, clinic, retirement home, dispensary, etc.), and opens new possibilities for highly interactive applications, such as second opinions or surgical video-assistance.

Launched in May 2005, Healthware is an integrated project of the “Aeronautics and Space” thematic priority of the 6th Framework Program (FP6), under the “End-to-end satellite telecommunications systems for telemedicine applications” topic. This 3-year project is valued at 5.5 million euros, of which 3.7 million euros is funded by the European Commission. Alcatel Space coordinates the consortium that includes Telespazio, Alcatel Espacio, Eutelsat, CNES as well as key actors from the health sector in Italy, Greece, UK, Poland and Czech Republic. [Alcatel 06/15/2005]

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

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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”.

SpaceRef staff editor.