From July 18 to 23, Thales Alenia Space, together with Thales, will be at the MAKS international air show, being held at the Moscow-Zhukovsky/Ramenskoye airport. MAKS is a key event for Thales Alenia Space, which has carried out 43 major industrial projects with Russian partners over the last 20 years (manufacture of satellites, equipment or payloads). This trend is continuing with various programs already underway, including payloads for the Express-80 and Express-103 satellites for the operator, Russian Satellite Communication Company (RSCC). During this leading air show, the European satellite manufacturer will showcase its latest technologies in all of its business lines, spanning telecommunications, Earth observation, satellite navigation, space exploration and orbital infrastructures.
Thales Alenia Space will be focusing on its very high throughput satellites (VHTS), its new-generation Spacebus NEO telecom satellite platforms, and its expertise in digital payloads, which allow operators to adapt to unexpected developments during both satellite
construction and service life. The company will also showcase the many highlights of 2017, which has gotten off to a flying start! With the 20 first satellites in the Iridium NEXT constellation, Telkom-3S (Indonesia), SGDC (Brazil), KOREASAT-7 (South Korea), and the Hellas Sat 3/Inmarsat S EAN “condosat” (for operators Inmarsat and Hellas Sat), no less than 24 satellites built by Thales Alenia Space have been orbited this year – in just the first six months. This busy schedule underscores Thales Alenia Space’s ability to carry out several launch campaigns at the same time. MAKS will also see extensive discussions on constellations of telecom satellites in low Earth orbit (LEO), an area where Thales Alenia Space is the world leader, having built some 125 satellites as prime contractor (81 Iridium NEXT, 20 O3B, 24 Globalstar Second Generation).
Iridium NEXT© Thales Alenia Space/Master Image Programmes
A complete range of optical and radar observation satellites
Optical Observation system © Thales Alenia Space/Master Image Programmes
Intelligence, maritime surveillance, mapping, crisis management… Space gives users, especially governments, access to a number of surveillance applications that help guarantee their security and national independence. More and more countries today have indicated their interest in acquiring space systems capable of independently supplying high-precision images for intelligence. Capitalizing on over 30 years of experience, Thales Alenia Space offers a complete range of observation solutions – optical or radar detectors, user ground segment – that meet market expectations.
Thales Alenia Space’s new Optical Observation system, intended for operational applications such as surveillance, agriculture, urban development, risk and natural disaster management, delivers very-high-resolution images that meet the needs of both civil and military markets, thanks to advanced data separation and priority allocation.
Radar Observation system © Thales Alenia Space/Master Image Programmes
As part of its complete satellite offering, the European manufacturer also offers a Radar Observation system, based on synthetic aperture radars (SAR). This solution is perfectly suited to dual (civil/defense) missions, when users must meet both requirements.
Half drone, half satellite: Stratobus™
StratobusTM ©Thales Alenia Space/Briot
The famous StratobusTM , a multi-mission, autonomous stratospheric airship, and a perfect complement to satellite systems, will also be at MAKS. Marking a major breakthrough over current systems [since it doesn’t need a launcher], StratobusTM is capable of meeting the needs of security and defense forces, for example by offering permanent surveillance over a predefined regional coverage zone.
ExoMars: Is there Life on Mars?
ExoMars © Thales Alenia Space/Master Image Programmes
MAKS will also provide another opportunity to answer the existential question that David Bowie asked in his magnificent 1971 song, “Life On Mars” (in the album Hunky Dory for fans). “Is there life on Mars?” or more concretely, “are there traces of previous life on the Red Planet?” That’s what the entire scientific community is looking for, via ExoMars – a two-part planetary exploration program (2016 et 2020), jointly conducted by the European Space Agency (ESA) and its Russian counterpart Roscosmos.
In the first mission, the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) reached the Martian atmosphere on October 19, 2016, after an amazing voyage that lasted seven months and clocked up an impressive 500 million kilometers on the odometer! The TGO is now sniffing the Martian atmosphere to find traces of gases. One of the first measurements will be to detect any traces of methane, an essential building block for life, and to determine if it is of biological or geological origin.
For the ExoMars 2020 mission, a Russian landing platform and a European rover will land on the Martian surface. The rover, about the size of a golf cart, will continue the initial mission by drilling down about two meters for Martian soil samples – a world first. These samples will then be analyzed by a science lab integrated in the rover, to look for the presence of any bacteria. This data will then be transmitted to the orbiter, which is also used as a relay for communications with Earth for rovers from both ESA and NASA. The European rover should be operational in 2021. ExoMars is a perfect example of how Europe and Russian combine their respective areas of expertise to support space exploration!
First artistic view: © Thales Alenia Space/Master Image Programmes
Movie ExoMars © Thales Alenia Space/Master Image Programmes