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Thales Alenia Space to build Copernicus CHIME satellites

(13 November 2020 - Thales) Thales Alenia Space announced today that it has signed a 90 Meuro first tranche contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to design and build the 2 environmental monitoring satellites of the Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission for the Environment (CHIME), the global amount being 455 million euros.

The CHIME mission is part of the expansion of the Copernicus Space Component programme of the European Space Agency, ESA, in partnership with the European Commission. The European Copernicus flagship programme provides Earth observation and in situ data and a broad range of services for environmental monitoring and protection, climate monitoring, natural disaster assessment to improve the quality of life of European citizens.

thales 1

(courtesy: Thales Alenia Space/Briot)

Thales Alenia Space will serve as prime contractor and integrator for this program with OHB and Leonardo as main partners for the payload. This mission will carry a unique visible to shortwave infrared spectrometer to provide routine hyperspectral observations to support new and enhanced services for food security, agricultural and biodiversity management, as well as soil property characterization, sustainable mining practices and environment preservation. The mission, whose instantaneous swath is 128km, will complement Copernicus Sentinel-2 for applications such as land-cover mapping.

This program will take both advantage of Thales Alenia Space proven heritage in Copernicus missions, Earth observation satellites and large high performance optical instruments as well as the OHB and Leonardo experience on hyperspectral instruments. The platform based on the new MILA platform product line, will also be compliant with space debris mitigation requirements, building on SWOT heritage using demisable technologies for clean space requirements and mechanical Interfaces compatible with a possible future On Orbit Servicing capability.

Hervé Derrey, CEO of Thales Alenia Space declared: "CHIME will offer a wide variety of new products and services in the domain of agriculture, food security, raw materials, soils, biodiversity, environmental degradation and hazards, inland and coastal waters, and forestry. These will be relevant to various EU policies , but also to the private downstream sector, that both will have with CHIME products and derived services, unprecedented information to rely on. The space sector has become a key actor for citizens applications and Thales Alenia Space is proud to bring its technologies serving a more sustainable world”.

CHIME will be compatible with Vega-C and Ariane 6-2, it will weight 1,640 kg at launch and will be positioned at 632 km altitude.

More about industrial contributions

Thales Alenia Space in Italy will contribute with some equipment for the platform such as the computer and the Payload Data Handling Unit. Thales Alenia Space in Belgium will provide the Power Control and Distribution Unit (PCDU). Thales Alenia Space in Spain the Data Processing Unit (DPU), the Remote Interface Unit (RIU), the S Band Transponder (SBT), the Ka-band Transmitter Assembly (KTA) and the Ka-band Antenna Assembly (KAA). Thales Alenia Space in Poland will be involved for the satellite structure manufacturing. For the Payload, Leonardo will provide the star trackers and will be responsible for the instrument telescope with Thales SESO optical elements, the Focal Plane Subsystem as well as for the on ground calibration and characterization.

About Hyperspectral imaging

Hyperspectral imaging is a powerful remote sensing technology based on high spectral resolution measurements of light interacting with matter, thus allowing the characterization and quantification of Earth surface materials. Quantitative variables derived from the observed spectra, e.g. directly through distinct absorption features are diagnostic for a range of new and improved Copernicus services with a focus on the precise management of natural resources.

About Thales Alenia Space

Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping 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. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately 2.15 billion euros in 2019 and has around 7,700 employees in nine countries.