The DGA (French Government Armament Agency), Telecommunication and Information Programmes Department, has awarded EADS Astrium a contract for the design and production of a space based optical early warning system demonstrator.
EADS Astrium is the prime contractor for this 124 M Euros program and will supply the alert and monitoring ground segment. Alcatel Space will develop the satellites whilst EADS Astrium will be responsible for satellite integration and in-orbit operations.
The demonstrator called SPIRALE (French acronym for “Preparatory System for IR Early Warning”) covers the supply and operation of a complete system able to collect and analyze infrared imagery against a land background, in order to detect ballistic missiles during their boost phase, just after launch. The space segment consists of two 120 kg class micro-satellites operating on an elliptical orbit, to be launched by Ariane 5 in 2008.
This is the first demonstration of its kind to be conducted in Europe. It will pave the way for a future operational, early warning optical space program. This will form a strategic link in an anti-ballistic missile defense system and will also contribute to other operational missions, such as proliferation monitoring.
EADS Astrium is the leading satellite company in Europe. Its activities cover complete civil and military telecommunications and Earth Observation systems, Science and Navigation programs, and all spacecraft avionics and equipment.
EADS Astrium is wholly owned by EADS Space. In 2002 EADS Space had a turnover of Euros 2.2 billion and 12,300 employees in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Spain. (ends)