France: DGA, the French arms procurement agency, awarded EUR 795 million (approx. USD 1billion) contract to Astrium for two satellites for the optical space component (CSO) that will replace the current HELIOS 2 military observation satellites. The first satellite is scheduled to enter orbit in December 2016. The contract also includes an option for a third satellite.
As prime contractor for the CSO satellites programme, Astrium will provide the agile platform and avionics, and will also be responsible for the integration work, testing and delivery of the satellites to CNES- French space agency. Thales Alenia Space will provide Astrium with the very-high resolution optical instrument.
Astrium will be making use of new technology to deliver satellites that are 100 times more powerful at reduced costs. The company has drawn on the latest technological advances and operational feedback from its entire fleet of reconnaissance satellites to cut costs by 30 percent over the last decade.
Astrium can now boast 35 low-orbit satellites that have totalled 350 years of service in orbit. The satellite’s tremendous agility and stability enable it to quickly provide users with extremely high-quality images, even for the most complex acquisition schedules.
Astrium has made use of the latest generation of gyroscopic actuators, fibre optic gyroscopes, on-board electronics and control software to optimise weight and inertia and significantly increase the pointing speed.
The satellite will also carry a Galileo navigator developed by Astrium and the latest generation of Sodern star trackers.