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July 12th, 2016

Thales Alenia Space Celebrates What's SWOT? And Four Launches In As Many Months 

Surface Water and Ocean Topography

The combined efforts of Thales Alenia Space and Leonardo-Finmeccanica were celebrated during a ceremony taking place at French space agency CNES (Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales). The companies were honored for their work involving the start of the SWOT satellite (Surface Water and Ocean Topography) production phase, of KaRIn (Ka-band Radar Interferometer) the innovative equipment altimeter’s heart, as well as Poseidon 3C radar altimeter. 

This important milestone for SWOT program reflects Thales Alenia Space dedication in programs dedicated to Earth Observation and exploration of the universe. Since the beginning of 2016, four launches in four months from four different sites carried spacecrafts “made in” Thales Alenia Space:

  • Jason 3 oceanographic satellite on January 17 from the Vandenberg base in California
  • Sentinel 3A satellite dedicated to the environment on February 16 from Plesetsk in Russia
  • ExoMars spacecraft heading to the Red Planet on March 14 from Baikonour in Kazakhstan
  • Sentinel 1B, environmental satellite on April 25 from Kourou in Guyane                       


The SWOT contract, an oceanographic study program demonstrating new applications is continuing on from operational missions Jason-1-2-3, has been signed on January 6, 2015. It will bring technological innovations within the field of altimetry. Built in collaboration with JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) on behalf of the French (CNES) and American (NASA) space agencies, the aim of SWOT is to measure the topography of oceans and continental surface water.

Thales Alenia Space’s expertise within the field of Earth Observation covers both meteorological missions (all the generations of Meteosat satellites since 30 years), climatological missions (Calipso recently celebrated its 10 years of operational in-orbit life for three years originally specified), altimetry (the legacy of Poseidon altimeter is a worldwide reference), and high resolution optical observation missions. In this area Thales Alenia Space has supplied all of the French defense high resolution instruments and put on the export market its new Earth Observer Optical solution that enables access to high resolution imaging.