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Thales Alenia Space signs ESA contract for third-generation Meteosat weather satellites

24th February 2012 -- Thales Alenia Space today signed a contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to supply Meteosat Third Generation (MTG) satellites for Eumetsat, the European meteorological satellite organization. Thales Alenia Space is prime contractor for this large-scale program, in partnership with German company OHB. The first phase of this program started in November 2010, and has now been definitively approved by the ESA industrial policy committee.

Thales Alenia Space has built Meteosat satellites since the beginning of geostationary weather forecasting systems in Europe, more than 30 years ago. ESA and Eumetsat issued a request for proposals for the development of the third-generation satellites, and Thales Alenia Space was able to propose industrial partnerships meeting ESA's geographical return rule, from both the qualitative and quantitative standpoints. The Thales Alenia Space's proposal not only delivers the performance expected by users, but also underpins the development of innovative solutions and ensures competitive prices.

The development of the satellites and their instruments started in November 2010, resulting in an initial consolidation of the system definition, and a selection by competitive bidding of the industrial team in charge of producing components and subassemblies for the different modules. As of early 2012, most of the industrial partners have now been selected.

The programme is now on track and in 2012, the detailed design will be validated by Preliminary Design Reviews (PDR) for the system, instruments and platform.

The MTG program comprises six satellites: four MTG-1 imaging and two MTG-S sounding satellites. The imaging satellites will deliver one image every ten minutes, and will operate in 16 bandwidths. They will be used to determine temperature and humidity profiles in a vertical section of the atmosphere. In addition, the satellites will carry an extra ultraviolet sounding instrument, within the scope of Europe's GMES program (Global Monitoring for the Environment and Security), to analyze the constituent gases in the atmosphere. With enhanced spatial resolution, continuous observation capability, and complementary imaging/sounding data, the Meteosat Third Generation satellites will considerably improve the quality and reliability of meteorological models and weather forecasts.

"I am very proud and very honored to sign the contract for the Meteosat Third Generation program here at ESA, along with Eumetsat, CNES and Météo France, and our German partners OHB and KT, with whom we form the 'core team'," said Thales Alenia Space President and CEO Reynald Seznec. "This contract is the culmination of a long industrial optimization approach, starting with the request for proposals. We are now enthusiastically looking forward to this exciting challenge, and once again demonstrating the excellence of the European space industry by delivering our accustomed world-class performance in geostationary orbit meteorology."

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 telecommunications, radar and optical Earth observation, defense and security, navigation and science. With consolidated revenues of 2.1 billion euros in 2011, Thales Alenia Space has 7,200 employees at 10 industrial sites in France, Italy, Spain, Germany and Belgium.

Thales Alenia Space Press Contact
Sandrine Bielecki
Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 70 94

Tarik Lahlou
Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 68 45

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