Thales Alenia Space Nabs $94M Contract for SWOT Satellite

PARIS — The French area company, CNES, on Jan. 6 signed the primary of a deliberate three contracts for the U.S.-French Floor Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) satellite tv for pc, a mission during which the 2 governments plan to take a position some $1.1 billion for a launch in 2020.

The primary contract, valued at 78 million euros ($94 million), was awarded to Thales Alenia House of France for growth of the SWOT satellite tv for pc platform and its integration. Different contracts will comply with for particular SWOT devices.

SWOT represents a big leap in capability and protection over the present collection of Jason ocean-altimetry satellites developed by CNES and NASA and, extra not too long ago, with funding from the U.S. and European meteorological businesses — the U.S. Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the 30-nation Eumetsat of Darmstadt, Germany.

The Jason-2 satellite tv for pc presently in orbit, and previous its contracted service life, is the newest within the collection, with Jason-3’s launch delayed to mid-2015 partly due to delays in NASA’s certification of the House Exploration Applied sciences Corp. Falcon 9 rocket that may carry Jason-3, CNES officers stated.

In response to table4 inquiries, NASA issued a press release saying its certification of Falcon 9 for Class 2 satellites — together with Jason-3 — started in July 2012 and isn’t but completed, however must be accomplished in time for a launch in Might or June.

“The launch of Jason-3 will more than likely be delayed resulting from a mix of SpaceX CRS-6 [space station cargo supply] acceleration within the manufacturing queue for the launch car, vary availability and to make sure readiness to launch the mission,” NASA stated in its assertion. “Jason-3’s launch is presently scheduled for late March 2015, however is more likely to transfer to the late Might or early June timeframe, pending Western Vary coordination.

“NASA’s Launch Providers Program (LSP) awarded a launch service process order (LSTO) for Jason-3 to SpaceX in July 2012. SpaceX has been working to realize a Class 2 [medium risk] certification with LSP for the reason that LSTO was awarded. SpaceX has made super progress towards attaining Class 2 certification with NASA with the vast majority of the gadgets having been efficiently accomplished; nevertheless, there are a number of open gadgets that SpaceX is engaged on in an effort to absolutely full their certification effort. No “finish date” has been set, however the certification is on monitor for a NASA choice previous to the Jason-3 launch.”

NASA approves Falcon 9 (above) launches of cargo to the worldwide area station, however a higher-level certification is required for extra priceless science and different satellites. Credit score: SpaceX

NASA approves Falcon 9 launches of cargo to the worldwide area station, however a higher-level certification is required for extra priceless science and different satellites. The U.S. Air Drive is within the last phases of certifying Falcon 9 for U.S. navy launches, and each NASA and the U.S. Nationwide Reconnaissance Workplace have coordinated their insurance policies for certifying new rockets with the Air Drive.

It was additionally unclear whether or not the certification course of has been slowed by way of a recoverable Falcon 9 first stage for the launch. SpaceX is progressively introducing a reusable first stage into Falcon 9 operations. The Falcon 9 may have loads of capability remaining past what is required to put the two,000-kilogram SWOT satellite tv for pc into its 890-kilometer orbit, making it a logical candidate for a stage-recovery mission.

A fourth Jason satellite tv for pc, this one constructed with bigger European participation, is being financed with European Fee and European House Company funding.

SWOT jumps a era forward. Its mission extends past exact measurements of ocean ranges to incorporate floor water ranges in lakes and rivers utilizing wide-swath interferometry from two Ka-band radar antennas, every 5 meters lengthy, deployed on the finish of two 5-meter booms extending from the satellite tv for pc’s core.

NASA is financing about two-thirds of SWOT’s total finances, which together with the bottom assist community and operations totals about $1.1 billion. NASA is offering the launch car, the Ka-band radar interferometer, a radiometer and a GPS receiver.

The French contribution, totaling greater than $300 million, features a nadir altimeter; the satellite tv for pc’s platform and satellite tv for pc meeting, integration and testing; a radio-frequency unit for the U.S.-built interferometer; and an altimeter. The U.Okay. House Company has contributed about 9 million euros to SWOT by CNES and can present part of the radar payload.

The Jason-2 satellite tv for pc presently in orbit, and previous its contracted service life, is the newest within the collection, with Jason-3’s (above) launch delayed to mid-2015. Credit score: Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The satellite tv for pc will likely be designed to offer its radar instrument with a stability to inside one micron over its 5-meter size to guarantee high-precision knowledge on water floor ranges. It has two photo voltaic arrays designed to ship 2 kilowatts of energy to the payload, with a data-transmission velocity of 360 megabits per second — in comparison with 830 kilobits per second for Jason-3.

CNES officers stated they persuaded their authorities to make use of monies from a French public bond fund referred to as Investments for the Future as soon as they have been persuaded that NASA would have the ability to discover the $750 million it wants for SWOT.

A U.S. Authorities Accountability Workplace (GAO) report in April stated SWOT’s schedule and total viability was in danger due to France’s problem in financing the SWOT nadir altimeter.

CNES and Thales Alenia House officers stated that downside was solved when the French authorities agreed to spice up its SWOT contribution to cowl the nadir altimeter, which is analogous to the altimeter to fly on Jason-3.

Genevieve Fioraso, France’s minister for area, attended the contract-signing ceremony and stated that after spending a lot of 2014 rounding up monetary assist in Europe for a next-generation Ariane 6 rocket, her ministry is seeking to 2015 as a yr when satellites — “the place the added worth is,” she stated — will likely be a precedence for the federal government.

Thales Alenia House Chief Govt Jean-Loic Galle stated his firm has dedicated to allocating no less than 15 % of the worth of its SWOT contract to small and midsized corporations, one of many circumstances connected to the usage of monies coming from the bond fund.

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