Astrium Inks Two-Satellite Deal with Kazakhstan

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PARIS — Space hardware and services supplier Astrium, furthering its partnership with the government of Kazakhstan, will build and launch two Earth observation satellites, and provide a satellite integration and test center in Kazakhstan, in a contract valued at 230 million euros ($336 million) and concluded Oct. 6 during a state visit to Kazakhstan by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Astrium announced.

The contract also includes training Kazakh satellite engineers at Astrium’s satellite-production facility in Toulouse, France, and integrating the two Astrium-built Kazakh spacecraft into the global satellite-imaging services network operated by Spot Image, an Astrium subsidiary.

The two satellites will not be identical.

One will be built by Astrium Satellites in Toulouse and will carry an optical imager with a 1-meter ground resolution, meaning it can detect objects of that diameter and larger. The satellite will be similar to the Astrium-built Theos and Formosat-2 satellites for the governments of Thailand and Taiwan. It will be launched in early 2014.

The second satellite, to be launched in late 2014, will be built by Astrium-owned Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL) of Britain. Its principal imager will be a 7-meter-resolution optical camera.

The satellite will be based on the SSTL 150 platform, variants of which include the RapidEye commercial Earth observation constellation; Britain’s TopSat demonstration satellite; and Beijing-1 for China. TopSat and Beijing-1 are both used as part of the SSTL-coordinated Disaster Monitoring Constellation, which includes SSTL-built spacecraft for Algeria, Nigeria and Turkey.

The contract includes the launch of both satellites, but launcher selection has not been made. Astrium has multiple launch-services agreements in place with operators of rockets suitable for small Earth observation satellites, notably India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle; Hawthorne, Calif.-based Space Exploration Technologies’ Falcon 1e; Russia’s Rokot vehicle operated by Eurockot of Germany, co-owned by Astrium and Khrunichev of Moscow; and the Russian-Ukrainian Dnepr rocket commercialized by Kosmotras of Russia.

The contract was signed Oct. 6 in the Kazakh capital of Astana by Francois Auque, president of Astrium; and by Gavyllatyp T. Murzakulov, president of JSC Kazakhstan Gharysh Sapery, a state-owned company affiliated with the Kazakh space agency.

“This new space system will provide the Republic of Kazakhstan with a wide range of civil applications, including surveillance of natural resources and agriculture, mapping and support for natural-disaster response,” Auque said in a statement following the contract signature.

Astrium said it will form a joint venture with the Kazakh company to build the satellite test and integration center, theconstruction of which will be handled by satellite-test specialist Intespace of Toulouse, an Astrium affiliate. The joint venture also will oversee the space program of the Kazakh government.

Kazakh space officials have said the national space program will require an investment of some 38.6 billion Kazakh tenge ($259 million) per year. The company’s principal space resource is the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which is operated by Russia under a long-term lease.