Sofradir scores hat trick in space mission contract wins in 2011
- The EUR multi-million Meteosat third generation infrared sensor project is Sofradir's third space mission win this year and its biggest ever contract to date
"This is Sofradir's third major space contract win this year and the largest contract win in Sofradir's history. This is a significant achievement on top of the record 26 flight model infrared detectors we delivered for space missions in 2010," said Philippe Bensussan, chairman and CEO at Sofradir. "We've seen our satellite business triple in the last five years, as earth observation spacecrafts use more infrared imaging and multispectral equipment that increasingly require visible and IR products."
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The two other major space contract wins Sofradir was awarded in 2011 to supply IR detectors were MUSIS/CSO, a military imaging system, and the Sentinel-5-Precursor satellite mission.
Within the scope of the five-year MTG contract headed by European Space Agency (ESA), Sofradir will deliver to Thales Alenia Space France (TAS-F), a leading worldwide manufacturer of satellite and space equipment, custom designed IR detectors. The IR detectors will be integrated in two payloads: the Flexible Combined Imager (FCI) to take IR images of clouds and the InfraRed Sounder (IRS) to analyze the chemical composition of the atmosphere versus altitude. They will operate wavelengths that extend from Short Wave Infrared (SWIR) to Very Long Wave Infrared (VLWIR), in order to better identify and measure various types of clouds and chemical elements.
In total, Sofradir will develop six different types of detectors. It will deliver up to 22 flight models for the MTG program.
"The Meteosat third generation project is a challenging and exciting project that Sofradir is proud to be part of," said Bensussan. "It shows we are able to handle big space contracts, several tens of millions of euros, and confirms our leadership among space-grade IR detector manufacturers in Europe and elsewhere."
The ESA contract represents the culmination of several years of work Sofradir has carried out on the MTG program. It enables Sofradir to progress to the final phase. Sofradir's first involvement began in 2007, when it participated in the feasibility study in collaboration with CEA/LETI. Sofradir then advanced to the preliminary phase, where it developed IR detectors based on its Mercury Cadmium Telluride (MCT) for testing.
One of the significant characteristics that sets Sofradir's MCT IR technology apart from competing technologies is its capacity to be applicable in all wavelengths from the Visible to Very Long Wave IR (above 15 micro). With this technology, it can use a single production line to manufacture IR detectors in different wavelengths. Thus, it can supply highly reliable cutting-edge technology IR detectors both in large volume production and customized designs more efficiently.