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Meteosat celebrates 30th anniversary: Europe?s weather satellite program an unqualified success

27 November 2007

Cannes, November 27, 2007 - Thales Alenia Space, prime contractor for Meteosat satellites, joined French space agency CNES, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the European Meteorological Satellite Organization (Eumetsat), to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Meteosat weather satellites. This program is a textbook case of successful collaboration between European space agencies and industry.

For the last 30 years, millions of people have been using the daily weather reports based on Meteosat images: high pressure and low pressure zones, cloud masses and many other images have been a daily feature on TV screens for many years.

In addition to the daily forecasts, the data provided by Meteosat satellites play a vital role in planning ahead for major events such as storms, hurricanes and floods - and more generally to monitor the long-term changes in our planet's climate.

Meteosat satellites are in geostationary orbit, allowing them to provide continuous observation of a given part of the planet. They offer an unprecedented view of Europe, Africa and the East Atlantic, or about 42% of the Earth's surface.

Since the beginning of the program, launched by ESA in 1977, Thales Alenia Space has been prime contractor for all Meteosat satellites, leading an industrial consortium of European companies, including EADS Astrium, which makes the radiometer.

Operated by Eumetsat within the scope of the global atmospheric observation system set up by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) in the mid-1970s. Coupling Meteosat satellites with the other satellites in this international system ensures global monitoring of our planet. Furthermore, 53 African countries are already benefiting from Meteosat Second Generation data receiving stations within the scope of the Puma program (preparation for the use of Meteosat data in Africa).

Seven Meteosat family satellites have been launched since 1977, followed by two second-generation satellites (MSG-1 renamed Meteosat-8 launched in August 2002, then MSG-2 renamed Meteosat-9 launched in December 2005). The MSG-3 and MSG-4 second-generation satellites are slated for launch in 2011 and 2013, respectively.

Thales Alenia Space is successfully participating in more than 45 Earth observation missions, teaming with partners from around the world such as ESA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), national space agencies (CNES, ASI, KARI), NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and Eumetsat. World leader in geostationary weather satellites, with proven expertise in low-orbit Earth observation missions, European leader in Earth observation ground segments, Thales Alenia Space is today a key player in GMES (Global Monitoring for Environment and Security).

About Thales Alenia Space
The European leader in satellite systems and a major player in orbital infrastructures, Thales Alenia Space is a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%). Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio embody the two groups' "Space Alliance". Thales Alenia Space sets the global standard in solutions for space telecoms, radar and optical Earth observation, defense and security, navigation and science. The company has a total of 7,200 employees and 11 industrial sites, with locations in France, Italy, Spain and Belgium.



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