PARIS — Astrium Satellites and its partner, iXSpace of France, will provide fiber-optic gyroscopes for attitude control aboard the U.S. Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS)-1 satellite to be launched in 2016.

Astrium said it is the first time it will be delivering key internal measurement units for a U.S. government satellite program and is an example of Astrium’s recently redoubled efforts to promote itself as a component provider to other prime contractors in addition to building satellites on its own.

Under the contract announced Dec. 14, Astrium will deliver fiber-optic gyroscopes marketed by iXSpace under the Astrix name to Ball Aerospace & Technologies of Boulder, Colo., which is building the JPSS-1 satellite for NASA.

JPSS-1 is designed to be the first of three JPSS polar-orbiting meteorological satellites to be operated by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

NOAA and Europe’s 26-nation Eumetsat meteorological satellite organization, along with the U.S. Department of Defense, coordinate their separate polar-orbiting satellite systems to provide maximum global weather monitoring.

iXSpace said it has produced more than 50 Astrix fiber-optic gyroscopes for satellite missions including Europe’s Planck science satellite, launched in 2009; South Korea’s COMS weather and telecommunications satellite; the two French Pleiades optical Earth observation satellites; and the two European Galileo navigation satellites launched in October

The gyroscopes permit the satellite to maintain its precise attitude in orbit, and to point its instruments.


Peter B. de Selding was the Paris bureau chief for SpaceNews.