Thales Alenia Space, Joint Venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), and Telespazio, Joint Venture between Leonardo (67%) and Thales (33%), forming the Space Alliance, have signed the contracts with the Italian Ministry of Defence and with the Italian Space Agency (ASI), to launch the development of two additional satellites and the upgrade of ground, logistic support and operational segments to complete the COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation constellation (CSG).
Thales Alenia Space is the lead of a consortium with Telespazio and Leonardo, within the overall COSMO-SkyMed Second Generation programme. Telespazio is responsible for designing and developing the CSG Ground Segment, including the security aspects, as well as the Integrated Logistics and Operations (ILS&OPS) services, and Leonardo’s space line of business provides specific satellite units. Thales Alenia Space is responsible for the design and development of the four CSG satellites and the end-to-end system design, integration and commissioning.
Leonardo’s space line of business contributes to the program by supplying the star trackers (A-STR) for the orientation of the satellite, Photovoltaic Assembly (PVA) and sophisticated units that process and distribute electric power throughout the satellite, maximizing its power efficiency.
The two new Satellites, to be built by Thales Alenia Space, will ensure the constellation completion and the full operational capacity of the SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) observation services provided by the four satellites of the COSMO-Second Generation replacing the previous COSMO-SkyMed first generation still operative despite exceeding the satellite lifetime.
The new satellites will contribute to the continuous monitoring of the Earth's surface, to safety-related needs and to the management of natural events including support to damage assessment activities and rescuing operations. They will complete the constellation, along with the Proto-Flight Model (PFM) Launched in 2019 and the Flight Model 2 (FM2) – currently under integration phase in Thales Alenia Space Assembly Integration and Test (AIT) Facilities in Rome – and scheduled for launch at the end of 2021 with a VEGA-C launcher.
"We are extremely satisfied to have signed this contract, which will enable the completion of the Second Generation of COSMO-SkyMed, guaranteeing a further leap forward in terms of technology and performance for the entire constellation, consolidating Thales Alenia Space's leadership in the Earth Observation radar sector worldwide," commented Massimo Claudio Comparini, Senior Executive Vice President Observation, Exploration and Navigation at Thales Alenia Space. “I therefore believe that it is particularly important to thank the Italian Space Agency and the Ministry of Defence for their commitment to the national space industry in achieving this result. Keeping the entire COSMO-SkyMed constellation at the cutting edge by means of two additional second-generation satellites to be built is of paramount importance to preserve the leadership of our entire industry and its supply chain in a constantly evolving space market".
“We are proud to confirm the role of Telespazio in making such a strategic asset and are grateful to the Italian Space Agency and the Ministry of Defence for the contract on the third and fourth CSG satellites”, commented Luigi Pasquali, CEO of Telespazio. “The users’ community can rely on the operational continuity of the COSMO-SkyMed system and benefit from the evolutions and improved performances achieved at both Space and Ground Segments level thanks to these additional two second-generation satellites.”
The primary goal of CSG is to provide a dual - civil and defense - user base with Earth Observation services through a broad portfolio of products, obtained in various operational modes of the SAR sensor, in both narrow field and ultra-fine resolution modes and wide field modes.
The design of the second-generation SAR sensor, together with the flexibility features provided by the Ground Segment, represent an important improvement of the state-of-the-art technology for the Earth Observation systems based on radar technology, in terms of image quality, planning and image-acquisition versatility, sensing agility and ground-based updating and processing capabilities, including data exploitation.
The versatility and electronic agility of the CSG SAR payload enable a new operational mode, which allows the simultaneous acquisition of two areas located hundreds of kilometers apart on the Earth’s surface.