Status Report

France in Space #362

By SpaceRef Editor
December 11, 2006
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Globalstar, Inc. and Alcatel Alenia Space announced Monday December 4th, that they had signed a 661 million euro contract for the construction of 48 Globalstar satellites. According to the terms of the contract, Alcatel Alenia Space, as prime contractor, will design, manufacture and deliver the 48 second-generation, low-earth-orbit satellites, as well as provide launch services prior to and during the launches and mission operations support. This contract was finalized only a few weeks after the preliminary contract (Authorization To Proceed), aimed at defining the program readiness review and developing program milestones, was signed. Each Globalstar satellite will weigh roughly 700 kg and will be fitted with 32 transponders in C-, S- and L-band. Starting in 2009, the spacecraft will be launched six to eight at a time and will have a lifespan of 15 years. The satellites will be assembled and integrated at Alcatel Alenia’s facilities in Rome, Italy, the payloads will be provided by the company’s facility in Toulouse, France, and the structures, as well as the thermal subsystems, will be provided by its facility in Cannes, France. [Alcatel Alenia Space 12/04/06, Space News 12/04/06]


In a statement released December 5th, the Spanish infrastructures group, Abertis, announced that it has agreed to pay 1.07 billion euros for a 32% stake in the Paris-based satellite operator Eutelsat Communications. If the purchase goes through as planned, it would make Abertis the single largest shareholder in the company. Abertis is hoping to expand its telecommunications business, which currently account for 11% of its sales. The 32% stake is being sold by a group of investors including Texas Pacific, Spectrum, Cinven and Goldman Sachs. Eutelsat Communications presently operates 23 satellites providing telecommunications coverage over the entire European continent, as well as the Middle East, Africa, India and significant parts of Asia and the Americas. [Financial Times 12/06/06, International Herald Tribune 12/06/06]


The German defense technology procurement agency has signed a contract with OHB-System AG to provide the technical interface that will allow German and French military forces to access each other’s surveillance satellites. The Europeanization of Satellite-Based Reconnaissance (E-SGA) contract, signed December 1st, is valued at 87 million euros. The technical interfaces and the necessary ground-based structures to be built by OHB will give German forces access to France’s Helios 2 high-resolution optical data, and in turn, French forces will have access to Germany’s SAR-Lupe high-resolution radar satellite system. OHB has already begun preliminary work on E-SGA while it was awaiting the formal signing of the contract. In the future this nascent system could be expanded to include the space-reconnaissance resources of other countries in Europe, such as Italy. [Space News 12/04/06]


The Korean Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) has announced that it has chosen Arianespace to launch its COMS-1 multi-mission satellite. The signature of this contract marks Arianespace’s 12th launch services contract of 2006. The Communication, Ocean and Meteorological Satellite-1 (COMS-1) will be placed into geostationary transfer orbit by an Ariane 5 sometime between the end of 2008 and June 2009. The spacecraft, which will weigh approximately 2,600 kg at launch, will be fitted with three distinct payloads, including meteorological observation and ocean surveillance instruments. It will also carry an experimental payload for broadband, multimedia communications services. Astrium Satellites, as prime contractor, will build COMS-1 using a Eurostar 3000 platform fitted with a meteorological imager and an ocean observation payload. The experimental telecom payload however, is being supplied by KARI. [Arianespace 12/04/06, Agence France Presse 12/04/06]


Alcatel-Lucent and Thales announced this week that they have signed a final agreement for the transfer of Alcatel-Lucent’s transportation, security and space assets to Thales, as well as on future industrial cooperation between the two companies. The agreement follows the signature of a new Space Alliance agreement between Thales, Alcatel-Lucent and Finmeccanica, in which the latter agreed to the transfer to Thales of Alcatel-Lucent’s share in Alcatel Alenia Space and Telespazio. The European Commission is currently examining the dossier and has entered phase II of the regulatory approval process for the transfer, a process that could last up to 90 days. According to the terms of the agreement, and with respect to the transfer of the space activities, a cash payment of 670 million euros will be made to Alcatel-Lucent. The value of the 67% shares in Alcatel Alenia Space will be reassessed by an independent expert at the beginning of 2009, which may prompt an adjustment. Consequently, Alcatel-Lucent’s interest in Thales will increase from 9.46% to 20.95%. The French government will remain Thales’ primary shareholder with a 27.29% stake. Alcatel-Lucent and the French government will enter into a new Shareholders’ Agreement for a period of five years, renewable. [Alcatel-Lucent 12/04/06, Agence France Presse 12/04/06]

** 6: IN BRIEF

The P80 motor, which will power Vega’s first stage, successfully underwent its first static firing on November 30th at the Guiana Space Center in Kourou. According to the preliminary data, the motor performed exactly as expected. A second and final test firing of the P80 is scheduled for mid-2007. [CNES 11/30/06]

The launch of CNES’ CoRoT (Convection, Rotation & planetary Transits) Space Telescope mission has been postponed until December 27th (a date confirmed by Arianespace) due to a leak detected in the fuel circuit of the launcher’s Fregat upper stage. [CNES 12/06/06]

The BADR-4 satellite built by Astrium Satellites has been handed over to ARABSAT as part of the in-orbit delivery contract and has entered commercial service. The Astrium control center in Toulouse, France began operating the spacecraft following its launch on November 9th from Baikonur; it arrived in geostationary orbit on November 13th where it was thoroughly tested. The satellite will carry Direct-To-Home television services, along with voice and data telecommunications services, across the entire Middle East and North Africa region, as well as parts of Europe. [EADS Space 12/04/06]


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, Noëlle Miliard and Timothée Verwaerde

France In Space is available online at There you will find the current issue, subscription and un-subscription forms, as well as the archives with a search engine.

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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.