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EADS Astrium to build new military satellites for France

The new satellites will replace the presently orbiting Helios constellation of spy satellites.

PARIS (BNS): European consortium company EADS Astrium will build two optical reconnaissance satellites for the French armed forces.

The company has received a contract worth 795 million Euro ($1.05 billion) from the French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) to build the military observation satellites for France. The contract also includes an option for a third satellite.

The new satellites will replace the presently-orbiting Helios 2 military observation satellites with the first launch scheduled to take place in December 2016, Astrium said.

As prime contractor for the CSO (optical space component) satellites programme, Astrium will provide the agile platform and avionics, and will also be responsible for the integration work, testing and delivery of the satellites to French space agency CNES.

Thales Alenia Space will provide Astrium with the very-high resolution optical instrument.

The satellites will also carry a Galileo navigator developed by Astrium and the latest generation of Sodern star trackers, the company said.

Compared with the Helios 2 constellation of military satellites, the new satellites’ sensors will be designed to identify smaller targets and deliver to decision-makers a greater number of pictures from crisis zones, and do it more quickly, the French DGA said.


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