Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy won the largest share of prime contracts the European Space Agency awarded July 1 for further development of six new Copernicus satellite missions.
All told, Thales Alenia Space was awarded the lead development role for three of the six planned Earth-observation missions, a contract haul totaling more than 1.4 billion euros ($1.6 billion). The Thales-led missions will use synthetic aperture radar, hyperspectral imaging and microwave radiometry to monitor the Earth’s oceans and landmasses to track soil moisture, ocean salinity, and sea ice concentrations, among other variables.
Airbus Defence and Space, with a win apiece for its German and Spanish divisions, hauled in 675 million euros in prime contract awards for missions that will employ a mix of radar altimetry, microwave radiometry, and thermal infrared imaging to keep tabs on sea ice thickness and land surface temperatures.
OHB Space Systems of Germany, meanwhile, won a 445-million-euro contract to lead the further development of a mission that will employ near-infrared and shortwave-infrared spectrometers to monitor the impact of human activity on atmospheric carbon dioxide.
The 2.55 billion euros in contract awards kick off the key design phase for the six missions, leading to a planned mid-to-late 2021 decision on proceeding into full development.