Proteus platform passes cumulated mark of 20 years in orbit

17 September 2010


Cannes, September 17, 2010 – Thales Alenia Space and French space agency CNES announced today that their jointly developed PROTEUS platform has passed the symbolic milestone of 20 cumulated years in orbit. Six of these modular platforms have been ordered to date, and five have already been launched, for the Jason-1, Calipso, CoRoT, Jason-2 and SMOS satellites.

PROTEUS, a reconfigurable satellite platform for communications, observation and scientific missions, was developed by an integrated Thales Alenia Space and CNES team, with Thales Alenia Space acting as industrial prime contractor.

The first model of Proteus was assigned to the Jason-1 oceanography mission, conducted jointly by CNES and NASA to succeed the Topex-Poseidon satellite launched in 1992. Jason-1 was launched on December 7, 2001 for a three-year mission. Nearly nine years later, it is still in service.

The second PROTEUS mission was Calipso (Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observations), which carries Caliop, an American-built lidar designed to study aerosols and atmospheric profiles. Launched on April 27, 2006 and initially scheduled for three years, the Calipso mission was extended in 2009.

Just eight months later, on December 27, 2006, the Proteus platform was launched on the CoRoT mission. This satellite is dedicated to the study of the internal structure of stars, using the astroseismology method, and to the detection of exoplanets (outside the Solar System). Since then at least 15 confirmed exoplanets have been identified, including the first telluric (terrestrial type) planet. In 2009 the end ot this mission was extended until 2013.

Jason-2 was launched on June 20, 2008 with the Poseidon 3 altimeter, to ensure the contiuity of its predecessor's oceanic altimetry mission.

The European Space Agency's SMOS (Soil Moisture & Ocean Salinity) satellite was launched on November 2, 2009. It carries a passive radio interferometer supplied by CDTI (Centro para el Desarollo Tecnológico Industrial) of Spain to study the Earth's water cycle.

The last PROTEUS platform ordered to date was assigned to the Jason-3 mission in February, with a launch scheduled for mid-2013. It will carry on the oceanic mission of the Poseidon family of altimeters, uninterrupted since 1992.

With 20 years of accumulated operation in different orbits, and three missions having already exceeded their contractual lifetimes, the PROTEUS platform is also included on the official registry of NASA's RSDO (Rapid Spacecraft Development Office).

About Thales Alenia Space
The European leader in satellite systems and a major player in orbital infrastructures, Thales Alenia Space is a joint venture between Thales (67%) and Finmeccanica (33%). Thales Alenia Space and Telespazio embody the two groups’ “Space Alliance”. Thales Alenia Space sets the global standard in solutions for space telecoms, radar and optical Earth observation, defense and security, navigation and science. The company achieved revenues of Euro 2 billion in 2009 and has a total of 7,200 employees located in 9 industrial sites in France, Italy, Spain and Belgium.

Thales Alenia Space Press Contacts
Florence Pontieux - Tel: +33 (0)1 57 77 91 26

Sandrine Bielecki - Tel: +33 (0)4 92 92 70 94

About CNES
Founded in 1961, the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) is the government agency responsible for shaping and implementing France’s space policy in Europe. Its task is to invent the space systems of the future, bring space technologies to maturity and guarantee France’s independent access to space.
CNES is a pivotal player in Europe’s space programme, and a major source of initiatives and proposals that aim to maintain France and Europe’s competitive edge.
It conceives and executes space programmes with its partners in the scientific community and industry, and is closely involved in many international cooperation programmes—the key to any far-reaching space policy.

CNES Press Contacts
Gwenaëlle Verpeaux - Tel. + 33 (0)1 44 76 74 04

Julien Watelet - Tel. + 33 (0)1 44 76 78 16

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