French Gyroscopes Picked for U.S. Weather Satellite

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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.