SAN SEBASTIAN, Spain — OHB Technology will operate ground stations to permit the French and German military forces access to each other’s optical and radar satellite systems under contracts valued at 14 million euros ($19 million), Bremen, Germany-based OHB announced May 4.

The contracts are part of a bilateral French-German program called E-SGA, or Europeanization of Satellite-Based Reconnaissance, and are an example of progress made among European nations to harness space-based assets that were financed and built separately into a system usable by several nations.

The partnership will provide Germany with access to the two French Helios 2 optical and infrared imaging satellites, while French forces will be able to use Germany’s constellation of five SAR-Lupe radar spacecraft. E-SGA stands in sharp contrast to an apparently stalled effort to bring together six European nations — Italy, Belgium, Greece and Spain in addition to France and Germany — to create a common ground segment for future European reconnaissance satellites planned in France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

OHB has already provided an SAR-Lupe ground reception station in France. Under the latest SAR-Lupe contract, with Germany’s Federal Office of Defense Technology and Procurement, OHB will operate this facility for five years. The contract is valued at 7.6 million euros.

OHB is the SAR-Lupe prime contractor and also operates the system for Germany’s armed forces.

Under a separate contract with Astrium France — prime contractor for the Helios 2 system — OHB will operate a ground facility in Germany giving German forces access to Helios 2 until July 2013. The contract is valued at 6.4 million euros.

Both ground stations have been built and are in final testing, and are expected to enter operations in July.


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