Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thales Alenia Wins Pacts For Space-Station Work

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thales Alenia Space, seeking to carve out a bigger role in future European and U.S. exploration programs, has signed contracts to build nine cargo modules to service the International Space Station and to develop a separate, experimental atmospheric re-entry vehicle.

The contracts, announced at the Paris Air Show in the past two days, illustrate how Thales Alenia Space is trying to expand from its traditional satellite manufacturing business.

Thales Alenia is a joint venture between France's Thales Group SA and Italy's Finmeccanica SpA, and has factories and research facilities in France, Italy, Spain and Belgium.

Thales Alenia on Wednesday announced a contract with Orbital Sciences Corp. to design and provide pressurized modules to transport cargo, scientific experiments and other items to the space station.

Intended to ship up to 6,000 pounds per module into orbit, the contract builds on earlier work by Thales Alenia on European cargo vehicles designed to dock with the space station. The value of the contract wasn't disclosed.

On Tuesday, Thales Alenia and the European Space Agency announced an agreement to proceed with development of an experimental atmospheric re-entry vehicle, featuring advanced flight controls and thermal protection systems.

Thales Alenia, which controls about one-fourth of the global market for large commercial communications satellites, also has a strong position in building scientific and low-earth observation spacecraft.

Late last year Thales Alenia formed a strategic partnership with Lockheed Martin Corp. to jointly develop and market space radar and remote-sensing technologies.


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