Astrium UK picked for satellite project

Dec. 9, 2011 at 7:08 AM
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LONDON, Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The European Space Agency has picked Astrium UK as the prime contractor for its Sentinel-5 Precursor satellite.

The contract to build S5p to monitor atmospheric chemistry is worth nearly $61 million.

The satellite is part of a program by the European Commission and the European Space Agency-the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security program. Its mission is to temporarily replace the ENVISAT and ERS-2 satellites when they end operational life.

The S5p, with a seven-year life span, will be launched in 2015.

Astrium said its TROPOspheric Monitoring Instrument, will be used on the satellite. The TPU was developed by Astrium's Dutch Space subsidiary and will measure the ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and other atmospheric pollutants at a higher resolution than existing instruments.

"The Sentinel-5 Precursor mission is fantastic news for Astrium as it was won in open competition in a tough environment," said Colin Paynter, head of Astrium UK.

Not only is it the first ESA prime contract won by Astrium in the United Kingdom for seven years, it is also ESA's current GMES first low-cost satellite program.

"The mission will ensure that Europe retains the ability to monitor atmospheric pollutants before the Sentinel-5 instrument becomes operational."

The GMES program was developed to give geo-information and services, based on the use of space images, to institutions and public authorities that protect the public and manage environmental risks.

Astrium is part of the EADS group, which has headquarters in the Netherlands.

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