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Alcatel Signs Final Corot Satellite Contract (July 24)

PARIS --- Alcatel Space signed a 15 million euro contract with the French space agency CNES today, covering the third and final part of the Corot program. Corot encompasses the development and construction of a space observatory satellite intended to study stars and detect new planets. The total program value is 35 million euros.

The Corot satellite will be based on the Proteus platform, one of five ordered by CNES last summer to be used for scientific missions. Alcatel Space previously signed a contract for the Corotel spaceborne telescope. Today's contract covers engineering services, plus satellite integration and testing.

CNES's Corot mission is a world's first. Its primary aim is to study internal structure of stars, using a method known as astroseismology (study of star oscillation and pulsation, which indirectly allows characterization of the interior). Corot is a dedicated astronomy mission. Operating for three years, it will study the internal structures of thousands of stars to determine their mass, age and composition. This is of course a key to understanding our universe. The various chemical elements making up the universe are formed in stars at different stages of their evolution. Corot will use very-high-precision stellar photometry methods to measure the changes in the luminous flux received from stars over a long period of time (150 days).

The second objective of the Corot mission is the detection of planets outside the solar system, based on measurements of changes in the luminous intensity received. Scientists believe they will be able to detect 10 to 40 medium-sized planets, similar to those in the solar system. These planets will be candidates for further exploration, since their size and chemical composition could be compatible with the presence of water. It is the task of Corot to demonstrate the existence of these planets, to determine how many there are and the environments that facilitate development. At the same time, Corot could also help discover dozens of new gaseous giants, rounding out current discoveries.

Corot will be placed into an inertial polar orbit at an altitude of about 850 kilometers. The satellite's attitude will also be inertial, with its line-of-sight remaining constant for an observation period of up to five months. The complete mission will offer at least five complete observation periods, totaling two and a half years. A Rockot launch is planned for in 2006.

The Corot satellite will be built on the standard Proteus platform, a multimission low-orbit platform developed and built by Alcatel Space, and validated in flight by the Jason 1 oceanographic satellite. Launched in December 2001, Jason 1 has delivered excellent mission and satellite performance in service. The Corotel afocal telescope supplied by Alcatel Space reflects the company's long experience on the Helios observation program, in particular the telescopic stability requirements for this mission. Corotel is a self-baffled instrument, enabling it to shield all signals outside the field of view. It will weigh about 150 kilograms, be 3 meters high and has a 270 mm entrance pupil.

This contract continues the collaboration between Alcatel Space and CNES, begun in 1996 with initial development of the Proteus platform. Corot is the first extrasolar exploration mission for this platform.

Corot is a fundamental mission for European astronomy, emphasizes Yannick d'Escatha, President of CNES. Rising to the major challenge of exploring our universe, CNES is delighted to offer researchers a satellite whose instruments will drive considerable progress in the study of stars and detection of extrasolar planets. It is vital that both France and Europe participate in the race to discover the underlying principles behind the universe, based on this experiment, the first of its type anywhere in the world.

Pascale Sourisse, Chairman and CEO of Alcatel Space, noted: We are very proud to carry out this scientific mission in conjunction with CNES, our partner in the development of the Proteus multimission platform - now one of the most cost-effective vehicles for today's space missions.

CNES develops and leads national space programs. 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 programs are pursued in cooperation with international partners. CNES also plays a central role in programs initiated by ESA, the European Space Agency, to which it is a major contributor. It is thus a driving force behind ESA programs and activities.

Alcatel Space, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alcatel, is the world's third largest satellite manufacturer and Number 1 in Europe. Deploying extensive dual expertise in civil and military applications, Alcatel Space develops satellite solutions for telecommunications, navigation, radar and optical observation, meteorology and science. The company is also the leading European prime contractor for earth observation, meteorology and navigation ground segments, and for space system operation.

Alcatel provides end-to-end communications solutions, enabling carriers, service providers and enterprises to deliver content to any type of user, anywhere in the world. Leveraging its long-term leadership in telecommunications network equipment as well as its expertise in applications and network services, Alcatel enables its customers to focus on optimizing their service offerings and revenue streams. With sales of EURO 16.5 billion in 2002, Alcatel operates in more than 130 countries.

Alcatel Kicks Off Corot Satellite Program For French Space Agency