Observation of the Earth from the International Space Station

Successful launch of the Nasa SAGE III instrument with the on-board Hexapod Pointing System produced by Thales Alenia Space on behalf of European Space Agency
Rome – February 19th 2017  - The Nasa SAGE (Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment) observation instrument that uses the Hexapod Pointing System produced by  Thales Alenia Space on behalf of the European Space Agency (ESA) was launched yesterday from the Kennedy Space Center launch pad by means of the Falcon9 launcher with the Space X Dragon capsule.
SAGE III is a NASA instrument produced as part of the EOS (Earth Observing System) programme to measure the components of the Earth’s atmosphere, such as pressurised and ozone gas, ranging between the troposphere and the stratosphere. Moreover, SAGE III provides overall measurements of the temperature in the stratosphere, reporting traces of gas as water vapour and nitrogen dioxide, key elements to study the atmosphere and the relative climatic changes of the Earth.


Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), plays an important role in this project. In its capacity as the prime contractor party on behalf of the European Space Agency, it has supplied the Hexapod Pointing System with the function of providing a platform for the SAGE III instrument. In addition to the system-related activities, developed in the Turin plant, certain parts of the flight system have been designed and built (Wiring, Thermal Control System, Software, Control Algorithms, etc…,) as well as prototypes, simulation systems and support systems.
Hexapod is a pointing system that can compensate for the instability of the Space Station and guarantee a finely-tuned, stable pointing device for the scientific instrument that uses it.  The system mainly consists of a pointing mechanism (Hexapod Pointing Assembly) made up of a platform driven by six electro-mechanical actuators, controlled and checked by an electronic unit (Hexapod Electronic Unit) and by complex software (Application SoftWare) that has been developed especially for this mission.
The Hexapod Flight Unit has been developed to support NASA scientific instruments called SAGE. It has been delivered fully qualified to NASA in 2015, and then assembled and tested in the SAGE/Hexapod Integrated Payload by NASA LaRC with TAS support. NASA LaRC is the Payload Integrator and is the responsible of the complete flight mission.
Thales Alenia Space plays a significant role in this ambitious International Space Station project. Not only does it contribute over 50% in the production of pressurised modules and in the construction and integration of the PCM Cygnus Cargo transport modules, it also develops several systems used by the ISS, both internally and externally, to carry out and provide support for different types of scientific experiments.
About Thales Alenia Space
Thales Alenia Space brings over 40 years of experience to the design, integration, testing and operation of innovative space systems for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. A joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%), Thales Alenia Space also teams up with Telespazio to form the parent companies’ “Space Alliance”, which offers a complete range of services and solutions. Thales Alenia Space has built up unrivaled expertise in dual (civil-military) missions, constellations, flexible high-throughput payloads, altimetry, meteorology, and high-resolution radar and optical observation, as well as space exploration. The company capitalizes on its strong legacy, while also making innovation a key to its strategy. By offering a continuous stream of new products and expanding its global footprint, Thales Alenia Space has established its leadership in today’s fast-evolving space sector. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues exceeding 2.1 billion euros in 2015 and has 7,500 employees in nine countries.www.thalesaleniaspace.com

Thales Alenia Space Press Contacts:

Tiziana Ebano    
Tel: +39 06 41512574    

Cinzia Marcanio    
Tel: +39 06 41512685                     

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