Options Boost Value of Astrium’s Sentinel-2B Deal

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PARIS —The European Space Agency (ESA) exercised March 31 several options for its Sentinel-2B multispectral Earth observation satellite that have increased the program’s value to prime contractor Astrium Satellites to 105 million euros ($142 million), Astrium announced.

Sentinel-2B will be a near-identical copy of the Sentinel 2A satellite, also under construction by Astrium under a contract valued at 195 million euros signed in early 2008. As it did with the Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-3 satellites under construction by Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy, the 18-nation ESA negotiated directly with Astrium for a Sentinel-2B, rather than organizing a fresh competition, to reap the savings the manufacturer could offer in producing a second copy of essentially the same spacecraft.

ESA had said in December that Sentinel-2B would cost 98.6 million euros. The contract signed March 31 includes several options that boosted the value to 105 million euros.

The Sentinel-2 spacecraft are scheduled for launch in 2013 and 2015. They are expected to weigh about 1,100 kilograms at launch and to operate for slightly more than seven years in a 786-kilometer polar low Earth orbit. The principal sensor, a 13-channel Multi-Spectral Instrument, will produce visible and infrared data with a ground resolution of 10 meters and a swath width of 290 kilometers.

The Sentinel satellites are being co-financed by ESA and the 27-nation European Union as part of a broad Earth observation system called Global Monitoring for Environment and Security, or GMES.

Astrium said its divisions in Germany, France and Spain will have major roles in the Sentinel-2 satellites’ construction.