EUMETSAT today signed in the presence of the Prime Ministers of France and Russia, a launch services contract with Starsem for the launch of its Metop polar orbiting satellites. The launch of the first satellite of three in the Metop series, part of the EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS), is planned for 2005. The launch services contract specifically covers the first two spacecraft with an option for the third.
The launch vehicle to be supplied by Starsem will be the highly reliable Soyuz/ST which incorporates the Fregat upper stage. The launches will take place from Baikonur in Kazakhstan. The Soyuz/ST is a development of the early sixties launcher, which lofted Gagarin for the first manned orbit. The launch vehicle in its various permutations has been used more than 1650 times with an outstanding reliability record.
The Fregat upper stage has already been proven through two qualification flights and two Cluster II launches for the European Space Agency. Also the Soyuz/ST features will be subject of a dedicated qualification flight in 2002. There will also be a number of operational flights with the launch vehicle configuration before it is used for Metop.
On signing the contract with Mr. Jean-Yves Le Gall, President and Director- General of Starsem, Dr. Tillmann Mohr, EUMETSAT’s Director-General commented, "I look forward to a long and successful working relationship with Starsem. We looked at all options for launching Metop and came to the conclusion that the reliability of the Soyuz/ST and its price made it the best value for money for EUMETSAT’s requirements".
Information for Editors
EUMETSAT is an intergovernmental organisation that establishes,
maintains and exploits operational meteorological satellites for 17 European States (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom). EUMETSAT also has three Cooperating States (the Republic of Slovakia, Hungary and Poland). The images and data from its Meteosat satellites make a significant contribution to weather forecasting throughout Europe and neighbouring continents in addition to providing important data for climate monitoring.
STARSEM Starsem is a Russian/European joint venture formed in 1996 to oversee industrial and commercial operation of the SOYUZ launch vehicle family. The SOYUZ is perfectly adapted to the increasing needs of commercial satellite telecommunications systems — in particular satellite constellations — as well as scientific and Earth observation spacecraft.
STARSEM is responsible for international marketing and operation on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan of the complete range of SOYUZ launchers designed and developed by the Russian Samara Space Centre.
STARSEM shareholders are: EADS (35%), Arianespace (15%), the Russian Aviation and Space Agency RKA (25%) and the "TsSKB-Progress" Samara Space Centre (25%).
For further information please contact:
Mike Phillips or Madeleine Pooley
Tel.: +49 (0)6151 807 605/606
Claire Coulbeaux
Director, Communication
Tel.: + 33 1 56 80 06 60
Fax: + 33 1 56 80 08 97