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Thales Alenia Space to develop in Spain the TDRS transmitter for VEGA launchers

Thales Alenia Space in Spain technologies to serve an improved approach using
geostationary data relay satellites


Madrid, April 27, 2020 - Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Leonardo (33%),  announced today the signature of a contract with AVIO S.p.A., industrial prime contractor of VEGA launch vehicle, in the frame of LEAP1 program of the European Space Agency (ESA), concerning the initial phases  of design, development and qualification of a TDRS (Tracking and Data Relay Satellite) transmitter, targeting an improvement of VEGA telemetry system both in terms of cost and performance.

The present telemetry system of VEGA relies on the download of the telemetry data streaming directly to the telemetry ground stations, requiring the use of costly mobile ground stations. Sometimes the ground stations are not even sufficient to cover the launch trajectory.

Improved connections



The new VEGA TDRS system is based on the transmission of the telemetry data streaming to TDRS geosynchronous satellites constellation, which then relay the signal to the TDRSS2  ground stations. This system will significantly improve the contact between the ground and the launcher by allowing continuous transmission of the telemetry data streaming all along the launcher trajectory thanks to the TDRSS coverage. The VEGA TDRS system will be compatible with the current launcher version and easily adapted to its evolutions, as the VEGA-C launcher version.

The TDRS transmitter development draws on Thales Alenia Space in Spain comprehensive expertise in the development of telemetry and command systems for all type of space missions in LEO, GEO, the Moon and Langrange L2 orbits. In particular, the company has developed TDRSS-compatible transmitters and receivers for numerous missions in low Earth orbit, including visiting spacecraft to the International Space Station such as Europe’s ATV, Japan’s HTV and USA’s Cygnus. Thales Alenia Space has also valuable experience in the launchers segment and is currently developing in its facilities in Madrid (Spain) the telemetry transmitter for the Ariane 6 launch vehicle.


Eduardo Bellido, CEO of Thales Alenia Space in Spain said “we thank AVIO and ESA for their trust in our capacities to develop the TDRS transmitter for VEGA, which is a key element for an improved approach to telemetry data transmission for European launchers, by using geostationary data relay satellites.”

Thales Alenia Space has contributed to the European launchers industry for more than 50 years. In just a few years, the company has become the key supplier of numerous electronic equipment developed in Belgium for the entire family of Ariane (Ariane 1 to Ariane 6), Vega and Soyuz launchers. Since 2017, Thales Alenia Space in Spain has also been completing the range of Thales Alenia Space-built products dedicated to the European launchers.


1  LEAP: Launchers Exploitation and Accompaniment Program
2 NASA’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRSS) provides data relay services to launch vehicles, the International Space Station and other spacecraft in low Earth orbit.


Copyrights: ©ESA/S. Corvaja - ©ESA/J. Huart - ©ESA/M. Pedoussaut


Drawing on over 40 years of experience and a unique combination of skills, expertise and cultures, Thales Alenia Space delivers cost-effective solutions for telecommunications, navigation, Earth observation, environmental management, exploration, science and orbital infrastructures. Governments and private industry alike count on Thales Alenia Space to design satellite-based systems that provide anytime, anywhere connections and positioning, monitor our planet, enhance management of its resources, and explore our Solar System and beyond. Thales Alenia Space sees space as a new horizon, helping to build a better, more sustainable life on Earth. 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. Thales Alenia Space posted consolidated revenues of approximately 2.15 billion euros in 2019 and has around 7,700 employees in nine countries.


Thales Alenia Space is well represented in Spain and is the country’s leading space company in the satellite segment, with 31 years of experience in the design, development and sale of advanced space systems and equipment. It has contributed to 600 satellites, space probes and vehicles used in telecommunications, Earth observation, science, exploration, navigation and orbital infrastructure missions, and delivered more than 4000 equipment and subsystems accumulating 200,000,000 hours of flight operations. Thales Alenia Space in Spain offers a wide range of solutions spanning the design and integration of payloads and subsystems for telecommunications, data transmission and TT&C (tracking, telemetry and command), optical observation instruments, radiofrequency equipment, data processing and digital electronics, network management systems for the ground segment, telemetry transmitters for launchers and communication systems for spaceports.



Sandrine Bielecki   
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