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Thales Alenia Space chosen as partner in PLATO

(15 May 2018 - Thales Alenia Space) The European Space Agency (ESA) has chosen OHB System AG as prime contractor for a new program called PLATO (PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars), with Thales Alenia Space as a partner.

Negotiations between ESA and OHB should be completed by mid-June 2018, with the satellite to be launched in 2026 for an initial mission length of 4.5 years. PLATO will be the third medium-class (M3) science mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision Program, following Solar Orbiter (M1) and Euclid (M2), and preceding Ariel (M4).

The aim of PLATO is to find and study extrasolar planetary systems, especially terrestrial type planets in the habitable zone (compatible with water in the liquid state) around stars similar to our Sun. Unlike the previous missions, CoRot and Kepler, it will offer the unique ability to carry out stable, wide-field observations of bright stars over a very long period (two to three years), enabling us to detect and characterize planets orbiting slowly around their sun, such as the Earth. It will be placed into orbit around the L2 Lagrangian point, and will carry a scientific payload comprising 26 cameras and the associated electronics.

Thales Alenia Space (France and UK) will be in charge of avionics and integration for the service module (SVM). The AOCS (Attitude and Orbit Control System) software proposed for PLATO draws on the expertise and processes developed over the last 20 years and more. Thales Alenia Space offers full expertise in satellite avionics development and testing, from initial equipment specifications to test benches and AIT (assembly, integration, testing). The avionics test bench will be integrated and operated at Thales Alenia Space’s Cannes facility, with teams from Thales Alenia Space in UK also heavily involved.

“We’re delighted to support OHB System AG in developing and assembling this new science satellite for ESA,” said Donato Amoroso, Deputy CEO of Thales Alenia Space and CEO of Thales Alenia Space Italia. “The PLATO program will draw on the full range of our avionics skills, already deployed across our telecommunications and Earth observation satellite product lines, as well as knowledge acquired through our work on other L2 missions, namely Herschel-Planck and Euclid. The integration operations assigned to Thales Alenia Space in the United Kingdom reflect our company’s strategy of expanding our European footprint.”

About Thales Alenia Space

Combining 40 years of experience and a unique diversity of expertise, talents and cultures, Thales Alenia Space architects design and deliver high technology solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments, institutions and companies rely on Thales Alenia Space to design, operate and deliver satellite-based systems that help them position and connect anyone or anything, everywhere, help observe our planet, help optimize the use of our planet's – and our solar system’s – resources. Thales Alenia Space believes in space as humankind’s new horizon, which will enable to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ Space Alliance, which offers a complete range of services and solutions. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of about 2.6 billion euros in 2017 and has 7,980 employees in nine countries.