(Cannes, February 13, 2009) -- Two demonstration satellites for SPIRALE (French acronym for "preliminary infrared warning system") were successfully launched from Kourou, French Guiana, by an Ariane 5 rocket. As prime contractor for this national program, on behalf of the DGA, the French defence procurement agency, EADS Astrium will supply and operate a complete system designed to collect infrared images of terrestrial backgrounds.
Thales Alenia Space, in charge of the program's space segment, designed and developed the two SPIRALE microsatellites using the Myriade platform, developed by French space agency CNES. The satellites were integrated by EADS Astrium in Toulouse.
This demonstration phase is an essential step in developing a future operational early warning system.
Each satellite is 90 cm high and weighs 120 kg. They will be positioned in an elliptical equatorial orbit to observe the earth's atmosphere under a wide variety of conditions (mono or stereo mode, altitudes, bandwidths, local time, etc.). The telescope on the payload features advanced technologies, in particular a carbon-fiber reinforced silicon carbon (C/SiC) material known as Cesic, a ceramic matrix composite that offers the best combination of low weight and high performance.
"We are delighted with the successful launch of the SPIRALE satellites, which naturally supports Thales Alenia Space's partnership in any future operational early warning system," said Reynald Seznec, CEO of Thales Alenia Space. "We are teaming up with EADS Astrium to ensure the success of this key mission for our customer DGA."
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