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Thales Alenia Space proposals for the Copernicus project selected by European Space Agency

Cannes, 2020, July 2 - Thales Alenia Space, a Joint Venture between Thales (67 %) and Leonardo (33 %), has recently been selected  by the European Space Agency (ESA) in coordination and with the agreement of the European Commission, for major Copernicus missions. Copernicus is the core satellite Earth observation program of the European Commission and the European Space Agency ESA. It provides Earth observation data for environmental protection, climate monitoring, natural disaster assessment and other social tasks.



Thales Alenia Space will serve as prime contractor for the following missions:

  • Thales Alenia Space France for CHIME (Hyperspectral Imaging mission) with OHB system and Leonardo as main subcontractors
  • Thales Alenia Space Italia for CIMR (Passive Microwave Imaging Mission) with OHB system and OHB Italia as subcontractors
  • Thales Alenia Space Italia for ROSE L (L-band SAR Mission) with Airbus Defence & Space Germany as subcontractor.

Thales Alenia Space will also be responsible for the payload on two further missions:

  • Thales Alenia Space France for CO2M instrument (the CO2 Monitoring Mission) to measure global anthropogenic CO2 emissions and thus play a key role in studying the causes of climate change and monitoring it, with OHB system as prime contractor
  • Thales Alenia Space France for the CRISTAL (Polar Ice and Snow Topographic Mission) altimeter with Airbus Defence & Space Germany as prime contractor

The order volume resulting from the recent bid decisions is expected to be around EUR 1.8 billion1. Final contract negotiations will start shortly and contract signings are expected in the coming weeks.

Hervé Derrey, CEO of Thales Alenia Space declared: “I really want to warmly thank ESA for the trust they put in our company to be on-board of five of the six new Copernicus missions, driving three of them as prime contractor. These successes are reflecting the capacity of Thales Alenia Space to address complex Earth Observation missions in various configurations including optical and radar relevant solutions. I also would like to warmly thank the European Commission, the member states, and all national space agencies in particular CNES and ASI for their strong support”.

1  In line with the ESA contractual framework, the associated IFRS 15 order intake for Thales Alenia Space in 2020 should represent around €200 million


More About Copernicus missions

The CO2M or Sentinel 7 mission will carry a near-infrared and shortwave-infrared spectrometer to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide produced by human activity. These measurements will reduce current uncertainties in estimates of emissions of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuel at national and regional scales. This will provide the EU with a unique and independent source of information to assess the effectiveness of policy measures, and to track their impact towards decarbonising Europe and meeting national emission reduction targets.

The CRISTAL or Sentinel 9 mission will carry a multi-frequency radar altimeter and microwave radiometer to measure and monitor sea-ice thickness and overlying snow depth. It will also measure and monitor changes in the height of ice sheets and glaciers around the world. Measurements of sea-ice thickness would support maritime operations in polar oceans and, in the longer term would help in the planning of activities in the polar regions. Since inter-annual sea-ice variability is sensitive to climate change, the mission will contribute to a better understand of climate processes.

The CHIME or Sentinel 10 mission will carry a unique visible to shortwave infrared spectrometer to provide routine hyperspectral observations to support new and enhanced services for sustainable agricultural and biodiversity management, as well as soil property characterization. The mission will complement Copernicus Sentinel-2 for applications such as land-cover mapping.

The CIMR or Sentinel 11 mission will carry a wide-swath conically-scanning multi-frequency microwave radiometer to provide observations of sea-surface temperature, sea-ice concentration and sea-surface salinity. Uniquely, it would also observe a wide range of other sea-ice parameters. CIMR responds to high-priority requirements from key Arctic user communities.

The ROSE-L or Sentinel 12 mission will carry an L-band SAR. Since the longer L-band signal can penetrate through many natural materials such as vegetation, dry snow and ice, the mission will provide additional information that cannot be gathered by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 C-band radar mission. It will be used in support of forest management, to monitor subsidence and soil moisture and to discriminate crop types for precision farming and food security. In addition, the mission will contribute to the monitoring of polar ice sheets and ice caps, sea-ice extent in the polar region, and of seasonal snow.


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.



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