[SatNews] Airbus Defence and Space has signed a contract to build three MicroWave Sounder (MWS) instruments for the MetOp Second Generation series of satellites (MetOp-SG).
The contract for the MWS instruments, worth up to 155.5 million euros, has been awarded to Airbus in the U.K. and the satellites will be operated by EUMETSAT, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. The MWS instrument is the follow on to the highly successful MicroWave Humidity Sounder (MHS), also primed from Airbus in Portsmouth and currently flying on the first generation MetOp missions. The new generation of instruments will provide a much higher level of performance over a greater spectral range. The instrument delivers atmospheric temperature and water vapour information for use in Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models enabling short term weather forecasts to be made with greater accuracy.
Three MWS instruments will be built, each with a mission life of 7.5 years, one instrument will fly on each of the MetOp-SG A satellites, ensuring accurate forecasting data until 2040 and beyond. The first MetOp-SG satellite is due to be launched in 2021. The team at Airbus in Portsmouth will develop the MWS instruments together with 20 major sub-contractors across UK and Europe. There are currently four MHS instruments in orbit, on the European MetOp satellites and the US NOAA meteorological satellites. The first instrument was launched in 2005. Altogether they have accumulated 17 years of mission operations across the four instruments. A fifth MHS instrument is in long term storage and will be launched on the third and final MetOp satellite in 2018.
Additionally, Airbus Defence and Space has also signed as the leader of the industrial team (including Thales Alenia Space as co-prime contractor), a contract with the Armed Forces of the United Arab Emirates (UAEAF) for the development, manufacture and launch of Falcon Eye, a high-performance optical Earth Observation (EO) satellite system. The contract was officially signed by the United Arab Emirates in August 2014 and is now entering into force.
The contract includes manufacture of two satellites offering high-resolution optical capabilities and a ground system for monitoring, receiving and processing images, as well as a training program for the engineers from the United Arab Emirates who will control and operate the satellites once in orbit.
”The Falcon Eye high-performance Earth-observation satellite system will provide an unrivaled observation capability to the Emirate’s Armed Forces,” said François Auque, Head of Space Systems. “This contract consolidates Airbus Defence and Space’s position as the world leader in the export of Earth-observation satellite systems and is a major show of confidence in our company’s technology and, further, in the French and European space capabilities in the field of Earth observation. This very wide-ranging cooperation program is, along with the Yahsat communication satellite system, another example of the sustainable cooperation between Airbus Defence and Space and the United Arab Emirates,” Auque added.
This program is the latest in a series of satellites based on technologies that have been successfully used on a raft of missions, including Pléiades, SPOT 6 & 7, Ingenio, KazEOSat-1 and the satellite sold to Peru earlier this year, environmental monitoring satellites (Sentinel 2) and meteorology satellites (Sentinel 5P) both for the European Space Agency (ESA). This cutting-edge system will also benefit from the unique expertise developed by Airbus Defence and Space in the field of highly agile and stable platforms. The program will be run from its facility in Toulouse in the south of France.
There is additional information regarding Airbus D&S available at their infosite: http://www.airbusdefenceandspace.com/