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Successful launch of the Italian Earth observation COSMO-SkyMed satellite

08 June 2007

Neuilly sur Seine, June 8, 2007 - The first of the four satellites of the COSMO-SkyMed constellation was launched today from Vandenberg, California (USA), at 19h35 local time,/ 04h35 Italian time. The Italian dual-use satellite system dedicated to Earth observation was developed under an agreement between the Italian Space Agency (ASI) and the Italian Ministry of Defense, and built under the prime contractorship of Thales Alenia Space; Telespazio being responsible for the realization of the civilian and military Earth segments.

"The launch has been a success, COSMO-SkyMed is the largest space program in which Italy has ever participated, and the result is an important national and international collaboration" declared the Chairman of the Italian Space Agency, Giovanni Fabrizio Bignami. "It is another new achievement for Italy that will enable natural disasters to be prevented and which will save people".

"With the launch of the first COSMO-SkyMed platform - added the General Gianni Botondi, Secretary General of Defense/Direzione Nazionale Degli Armamenti - Italian defense fulfils a commitment for the development of a vanguard dual system, unique in the world in terms of ability and flexibility, and with which both civilian and security requirements can be met in equal measure. The Ministry of Defense, ASI and the Italian aerospace industry can be extremely proud of this achievement."

"The launch of the first satellite of the COSMO-SkyMed constellation is a success for our company", said C.A. Penazzi, the CEO of Thales Alenia Space. "We are understandably very proud because this event fulfils years of effort and commitment to a program that represents a great technological and research success story in our country. Thales Alenia Space, as prime contractor, has demonstrated that it has the ability and know-how to compete with other countries' industries which can be more advanced in the space sector."

"COSMO-SkyMed represents an important development opportunity for Telespazio, because it places the company in the position to highlight two of its main competencies: the development and management of "ground segment" components for Earth observation satellites, and the ability to develop applications and services in this sector. The COSMO-SkyMed radar technology opens the way for the operational use of Geo-Spatial Information, enabling Telespazio to offer monitoring services that until now has been impossible", declared the CEO of Telespazio, Giuseppe Veredice, expressing his satisfaction at the launch of the most important Italian space program.

The COSMO-SkyMed system is a constellation composed of four radar satellites with the ability to observe the globe by day or night and under any weather condition. It is dedicated to dual-use (civilian, institutional, military and commercial) Earth Observation, with the aim of monitoring the whole globe for Civil Protection (management of environmental risks), strategic (Defense and national Security) scientific and commercial uses. In the field of Environmental risks management, the satellite will be particularly useful for emergency, defense and national Security, with the aim of evaluating situations on a global scale. The investment for the whole system is approximately 1 billion €.

The three satellites needed to complete the constellation will be launched before the end of 2009.

Italy, through its COSMO-SkyMed system, has developed important international agreements in the Earth observation domain in the military and civilian areas, in particular with France thanks to an inter-governmental agreement (ORFEO), as well as with Argentina, with whom ASI is cooperating in the civilian sector to develop the SIASGE program - Sistema Italo-Argentino de Satélites para la Gestión de Emergencias. SIASGE was initiated in 2005 under an agreement between ASI and its Argentine counterpart CONAE in the scope of natural disasters management.

The data that will be collected by the COSMO-SkyMed constellation, comprising 4 x-band SAR satellites and Argentine SAOCOM constellation, comprising 2 L-band SAR satellites, is unique in the world. Both constellations will be able to provide data and services relevant to environmental monitoring, surveillance and risk management, environmental resources management, maritime management and science applications.

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