PARIS — Sofradir of France will provide infrared sensors for the next-generation French optical and infrared reconnaissance satellite system under a multimillion-dollar contract calling for deliveries of engineering and flight-model units between 2011 and 2015, Sofradir announced Oct. 11.

The detectors, based on mercury cadmium telluride (MCT) semiconductor material, will be integrated onto the two optical space component (CSO) surveillance satellites under construction for the French arms-procurement agency, DGA.

Astrium Satellites is building the two CSO satellites, with an option for a third, under a contract with DGA valued at 795 million euros ($1.1 billion) signed in December 2010. Thales Alenia Space of France is providing the main observing instrument, and has contracted with Sofradir for the infrared sensors under a contract Sofradir said has a “multimillion-euro” value.

The CSO satellites will succeed the current Helios 2 spacecraft, with a launch scheduled of the first one in 2016.

Sofradir also provided the infrared units for Helios 2. The company has seen its satellite division business double in recent years, reaching some 30 million euros in 2010, a record level that Sofradir expects to match in 2011 given Europe’s continuing interest in Earth observation systems.



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