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Thales Alenia Space to provide key communication equipment to NASA for PACE and WFIRST missions

Madrid, February 25, 2019 - The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) has awarded Thales Alenia Space two contracts concerning the delivery of the Transponders and the Travelling Wave Tube Amplifiers for the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) and Wide Field InfraRed Survey Telescope (WFIRST) missions.

PACE is a strategic continuity mission, sponsored by NASA’s Earth Science Division, responding to the challenge of climate and environmental change. Planned for a launch in 2022-2023, the PACE satellite will be capable of collecting radiometric and polarimetric measurements of the ocean and atmosphere, from which ocean ecological, ocean biogeochemical, cloud and aerosol particle data will be determined. The PACE observatory is comprised of three instruments: the Ocean Color Instrument (OCI) and two Polarimeters (HARP2 and SPEXOne). It is planned for launch into a Sun synchronous polar orbit at 676.5 km altitude.


WFIRST is a NASA strategic mission rated as the top-priority large-scale project in the “New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics”. The WFIRST observatory is designed to settle essential questions in the areas of dark energy research, exoplanets detection and infrared astrophysics. It will answer basic questions about dark energy, such as whether cosmic acceleration is caused by a new energy component or by the breakdown of General Relativity on cosmological scales. WFIRST also plans to complete a census of circa 2,600 Exoplanets in the inner Milky Way to answer questions about potential life in the universe. The WFIRST spacecraft will be equipped with an infrared telescope with a primary mirror the same size as in the Hubble Space Telescope -2.4 meters in diameter- and two instruments, the Wide Field Instrument and the Coronograph. The Wide Field Instrument will have a field of view that is 100 times greater than the Hubble infrared instrument, capturing more of the sky with less observing time. WFIRST is designed for a 5-year  mission with a targeted launch in 2025. It will operate at approximately 1.5 million kilometers from Earth in an orbit around the L2 Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth system.


Thales Alenia Space in Spain will design, analyze, manufacture, test and deliver the S-band Transponders, which are responsible for the transmission of spacecrafts’ housekeeping telemetries to the ground stations and the reception of ground commands.

Thales Alenia Space in Belgium will provide the Ka-band Travelling Wave Tube Amplifiers (TWTA), which are in charge of amplifying the Ka-band communications signals used to downlink the science data.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with NASA in two outstanding missions such as PACE and WFIRST, which will contribute to answer questions related to the Earth’s changing climate and to unveil some of the greatest mysteries of the Universe,” said Eduardo Bellido, CEO of Thales Alenia Space in Spain. “This contract confirms Thales Alenia Space’s worldwide leading position as key supplier of satellite communication equipment, and adds to our contribution to previous NASA programs like IBEX, OCO, Cygnus, JUNO, ICON or  JWST.”

About Thales Alenia Space
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 2.6 billion euros in 2017 and has 7,980 employees in nine countries.


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