16 October 2014 – Airbus Defence and Space, the world’s second largest space company, has signed the formal contracts with the European Space Agency (ESA) to design and build the second generation of Meteorological Operational (MetOp-SG) satellites. Covering the design and build of six spacecraft, these contracts are worth a total of €1.3 billion.
The contracts, today inked in Paris in the presence of Geneviève Fioraso, French Secretary of State for Higher Education and Research, follow the signature of the first contractual documents at the International Airshow ILA in Berlin (Germany) in May.
“After being chosen in 1998 to build the first-generation series of satellites, ESA has again selected Airbus Defence and Space for the second-generation MetOp programme”, said François Auque, Head of Space Systems. “This is a real mark of confidence in our know-how and our ability to deliver reliable, cutting-edge products on time and within budget. Thanks to programmes of this kind and our policy of continuous investment, we have maintained a technological edge that helps generate several billion euros of economic and social spin-offs for the citizens of Europe, every year.”
MetOp-SG comprises two series of satellites, with three units in each series. The Satellite A series focuses on optical instruments and atmospheric sounders, while the Satellite B series focuses on microwave instruments. Both types will be based on Airbus Defense and Space’s Astrobus high-power satellite platforms. While the Satellite A series will be developed and built under the industrial lead of Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse (France), the design and manufacture of the Satellite B series will be led by the company’s Friedrichshafen site in Germany. Airbus Defence and Space will lead an industrial consortium comprising more than 100 companies in 16 European countries, to supply more than 150 different pieces of equipment and services for the spacecraft platforms and instruments.
Each satellite, with a launch mass of approximately 4 tonnes, will be launched separately. The satellites will be placed on the MetOp sun-synchronous polar orbit, at an average altitude of 831 kilometres. The nominal service life of each satellite is 7.5 years.
The MetOp-SG satellites will constitute the space segment of the second generation EUMETSAT Polar System (EPS-SG). The first Satellite A is scheduled for launch in 2021, with the first Satellite B in 2022. The three satellites in each series will provide a nominal operating lifetime of 21 years (with a six-month overlap between each satellite in the same series).
The MetOp-SG programme is a cooperative undertaking between ESA and EUMETSAT. MetOp-SG will provide continuity and enhancement of meteorological data with improved spectral and spatial resolution compared to that currently provided by the first generation of MetOp satellites, also built by Airbus Defence and Space. A complete range of observations will be carried out using 10 different instruments, covering the ultra-violet, visible, infrared and microwave spectral bands.