CNES chooses Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space to extend the STFO system as Europe's Spaceport gears up for Ariane 6

Toulouse  27 April 2018

French space agency CNES has chosen the Space Alliance, formed by Telespazio and Thales Alenia Space to extend the fiber-optic communications system (STFO) at the Guiana Space Center (CSG) Europe’s Spaceport in French Guiana, to include the new launch complex under construction for Ariane 6 (ELA4). CNES is in charge of the CSG ground segment. The extended system will be ready to meet the needs of Ariane 6 customers by the end of 2019.

The STFO communications system acts as an interface between launch customers’ test benches and satellites throughout the different launch preparation phases at CSG, including spacecraft fueling, satellite encapsulation under the launch vehicle fairing and launch pad operations. In operation since the 1990s, this system will now be extended and upgraded to serve Ariane 6 customers. The new system is specially designed to meet the needs of the very high throughput satellite (VHTS) market, since it extends radio-frequency (RF) services to 40 GHz and allows the simultaneous operation of two satellites in Ka-band.

Telespazio France, as prime contractor, and Thales Alenia Space in Spain, as subcontractor, will bring to the project their complementary skills in system engineering, communications networks, software systems, RF and fiber-optics, as well as in the operation and maintenance of the current STFO system.

“Telespazio France has played a lead role as communications service provider at Europe's Spaceport since the first commercial launch of Ariane 1,” said Jean-Marc Gardin, deputy CEO of Telespazio and CEO of Telespazio France. “We are very proud to have won this contract for the extension of the STFO system. Telespazio is already responsible for highly critical and demanding activities in the CSG, and this is our first opportunity to take an active role also in the installation of the new Ariane 6 launcher in French Guiana. I am sure that the Space Alliance’s comprehensive expertise in manufacturing and services will ensure top-flight performance for CNES and ESA.”

“We are proud to be able to deploy our expertise for Europe’s Spaceport, under the banner of the Space Alliance,” said Eduardo Bellido, CEO of Thales Alenia Space in Spain. “This latest success once again shows the complementary fit between our two companies’ areas of technical expertise and associated services.”

The development of Ariane 6 was approved by the ESA Council in December 2014 to ensure that Europe maintains its leadership in the fast-changing commercial launch market, while also addressing requirements for European governmental missions. The launcher will be developed in two versions: Ariane 62, with two solid propellant strap-on boosters and Ariane 64, with four solid-propellant strap-on boosters. The first Ariane 6 launch is expected in 2020.

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