Italy has confirmed its position as world leader in the design and development of advanced Earth-observation satellites. The European Space Agency (ESA) and Thales Alenia Space – a joint venture between Italy’s Finmeccanica (33%) and France’s Thales (67%,) a leading player in space telecommunications, navigation and space exploration – have signed a €402 million contract to build new-generation satellites.
The agreement is part of the European Commission’s major Copernicus environmental monitoring and management programme, coordinated with ESA, which aims to guarantee Europe’s independence in gathering and managing data about the planet Earth to support Europe’s public environmental policies.
The new satellites belong to the Sentinel 1 family, which specialise in mapping urban areas and environmental impacts from an altitude of 700 km, monitoring risks caused by movements of the Earth’s surface, marine ice, forests and climate change in general. Sentinel 1A has been in orbit since 2014, and Sentinel 1B will be launched in April. The next two, Sentinel 1C and 1D are expected to be completed by December 2020 and July 2021.
“Copernicus demonstrates the commitment that the EU has been making to space for some years,” Mauro Facchini, head of the European Commission’s Copernicus programme, said. “It’s no coincidence that we’ve allocated some €12 million to it in our 2014-2020 budget.” Unlike the Sentinel A and B version,” he explained, “The C and D versions will be entirely financed by the European Commission, with the ESA responsible for implementing the contract.”
Donato Amoroso, CEO of Thales Alenia Space Italia and Deputy CEO of Thales Alenia Space, was also delighted: “We’re proud to have won this major contract, which confirms Thales Alenia Space’s long experience in Italy in building Earth observation satellites based on radar technology.” “The fact that we were chosen,” he added, “also shows that we have what it takes to confront the technical challenges of this programme, while at the same time contributing to Europe’s environmental strategy, both now and in the future.”
© Britaly Post